GOOD BYE— Port commissioners (left to right) Gay Sheffield, Charlie Lean, Jim West Jr., port user Adem Bockmann, port commissioners Derek McLarty, Drew McCann, Russell Rowe and Harbor Master Lucas Stotts bid farewell to retiring port project manager Joy Baker, center.

Port Commission receives comments from Kawerak on Port of Nome Strategic development Plan

A draft of the Port of Nome’s Strategic Development Plan Update–Phase A was discussed by the Port Commission in a work session last month. With a goal to prepare Nome for the future, the plan aims to lay out a 20-year vision establishing short-, mid- and long-term opportunities for development and growth.

Compiled by a team from PND Engineers, Northern Economics and Corvus Design, phase A of the plan is titled Background and Engagement.

In late January, consultants from PND Engineers and their subcontractors at Northern Economics and Corvus Design held public meetings over three days to hear the community’s thoughts, questions and visions of the port. The team also met with eight unidentified stakeholders and sought their input.

Phase A’s purpose was to give an overview of the port and hear from the community on what ideas they wanted to see in and around the port in the future.  There is no public comment period on the draft plan, but future meetings will incorporate comments and input from the public into the document.

“Second phase is kind of taking those ideas trying to figure out what can be implemented, and how they can best be implemented,” PND principal engineer Bryan Hudson told the Nugget.

Following additional public meetings, Phase B of the plan will be released.

The Port commission and community will share thoughts and comments before the third iteration of the plan, Phase C, which will include a deep dive into the port’s future.

The draft plan document is available at the City of Nome’s website, under the Port of Nome tab.


Response to the draft

Last Thursday in their regular meeting, the Port Commission heard from Kawerak’s Marine Advocate Anna Rose MacArthur who urged them to take note of Kawerak’s response letter, sent to the commission and port staff on May 14.

The letter signed by Kawerak President Melanie Bahnke included many suggestions on how the city can improve the plan and include tribal input. 

Kawerak advocates for subsistence consideration in every section of the city’s plan and inclusivity in development stages is at the forefront of the Kawerak’s requests.

“The City of Nome is one of five governments based in Nome. There are also four sovereign Tribal governments. Tribal leaders from each of these Tribes— Nome Eskimo Community, King Island Native Community, Native Village of Solomon, and Native Village of Council—should be invited to the decision-making table regarding the Port of Nome planning and development,” the letter stated.

With the Snake River’s mouth being literally the entrance to the port - and where construction of the port expansion will take place - Kawerak emphasized the importance of protecting all five salmon species that pass through the port and up the Snake River. They also recommended a partnership with United States Army Corps of Engineers on a study mapping how salmon use the estuary – the waters between ocean and river - creating informative data that doesn’t yet exist.

Also mentioned in the 24-page document is the desire to incorporate traditional knowledge, prioritize marine stewardship and create a plan for marine emergencies.

“We hope that these comments and recommendations are included in the future iterations of the plan and Kawerak hopes to further engage with the city on the strategic plan,” MacArthur said to the commission. “Also to make a suggestion that the Nome port commission and planning commission hold a joint work session to develop the strategic plan so that Nome is working towards comprehensive development.”

Baker responded saying there were many elements raised in the letter that don’t fit the purpose of the plan and some that do. “We’ll get back to you guys,” Baker said.

MacArthur also proposed the city host a public meeting where the community can share thoughts and questions related to the project.



The final point made in MacArthur’s public comment was related to the MS Westerdam, a Holland American Line cruise ship with a capacity of 1,900 passengers that will dock in Nome June 21. With it being the largest cruise ship Nome has seen so far, MacArthur inquired about the city’s plans for increased emergency services and how they will communicate management of the influx of people into town.

Harbormaster Lucas Stotts said he will know how many people are planning to debark into town close to the ships’ arrival.

Chair of the commission Jim West Jr. said a good place to inquire about emergency service operations would be at the Local Emergency Planning Commission which is scheduled to meet at noon, Thursday May 23 at the Public Safety Building.


Commissioner’s comments

Commissioner Charlie Lean spoke about his opposition to IPOP’s proposed dredging of Safety Sound, pointing out the birding tourism benefits that location provides with its rich ecosystem.

Sheffield made an announcement that the first death of a walrus by Avian Influenza was reported in Norway in late April. “There's a concern, of course for marine mammals since we already have in this region, avian influenza in birds and avian influenza in land animals like our red fox,” Sheffield said. “We need to be alert, and there is no real federal response at this time for this region.”


Project manager final update

In Joy Baker’s final update as project manager before her retirement, the commission learned that the due date for contractors to submit bids for Phase One of the port expansion was extended to June 14. Baker said this is common for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to do when contactors have questions about the bid packet and an extension is required to answer them. With no possibility of beginning work this summer season, Baker said the extension of the bid is immaterial. Commissioner Drew McCann asked if any bids have been submitted yet, Baker said they haven’t due to the questions but she expects bids will come in once contractors receive more clarity. Once the submission date is closed the Army Corps of Engineers will deliberate and decide who is awarded the bid. The City of Nome has no say in the contract endorsement.

The day before the regular meeting, the port commission convened for a work session reviewing the Port of Nome Tariff Rate Study and Analysis draft. The commission had multiple notes for the draft, with the main ask being for Northern Economics, the company that prepared the study, to reach out to local entities more for regional data to be incorporated.

The Port Commission recessed early to attend a good-bye function for Joy Baker, at the VFW.



The Nome Nugget

PO Box 610
Nome, Alaska 99762

Phone: (907) 443-5235
Fax: (907) 443-5112

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