City Council advances investigation and asks for changes to Knik dock

by Ben Matheson on March 12, 2014

The Bethel City council’s investigation into personnel and contract issues advances. The council heard an update at their meeting last night.

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The city attorney reported that the City Manager Lee Foley has turned over an enormous amount of materials to the law firm leading the investigation. The attorney and forensic auditor will review material and conduct interviews later this week. The council last night directed City Manager Lee Foley to release all emails between him, personnel and constituents. Foley had requested legal advice about releasing emails from other people and wanted direction from the council.

“I wanted something in writing that would protect me when I get sued. And I’ve already been told I’m going to be,” said Foley.

Mayor Joe Klekja said that he will be making a motion at an upcoming meeting to remove the contracts related to former finance director Bobby Sutton from the subjects of the investigation.

The council is expressing its concerns about Knik construction’s new dock. The comments say the 850 foot long dock jutting into the river would create a choke point and be a hazard to navigation. Council Member Mark Springer said the port commission has discussed their concerns.

“It’s bad enough for those of us driving 16 foot Lund boat, if you’re trying to push or tow a large liner barge or fuel barge through there when there’s a barged tied up or maybe a couple barges, it’s going to be real difficult,” said Springer.

The city wants a hydrology study to show the impacts the new structure would have on sand bars or scour points. Part of the reason Knik wants to go out in the river is that they would not have to dredge on a regular basis. Bethel Port Director Pete Williams says it’s clear they have to do something to stop the erosion.

“I just think they’re out a little too far on this, they need to scale it back. Before it gets built and all of a sudden it’s there and everyone says ‘gee what happened?’ I want to make the concern known now,” said Williams.

In other action, the council introduced an ordinance about water and sewer rules. The rules will require every house to be connected to water and sewer service, while allowing for exceptions for homes with wells or other sources. It prohibits the sale of water that was not first sold by the city and raises the deposit to $200.

Councilmember Sharon Sigmon says the ordinance makes clear that the city is not liable for damage caused by poor maintenance.

“If you don’t keep that overflow pipe clear, or it’s disconnected and the water goes out your house, that’s not the delivery man’s responsibility, that’s yours to make sure things are in good repair,” said Sigmon.

The ordinance adds that new buildings with one bedroom will required to have a tank of 800 gallons minimum, up from 600 gallons. It lowers the fee for violating provision of the chapter to 300 from 500 dollars.

The council approved a $130,000 budget transfer to cover planning for improvements to the east timber wall. The council approved the donation of 20,000 Alaska Airlines Miles To Teens Acting Against Violence for their 2014, Outward Bound trip. They finished by going into executive session for the city clerk’s job review.

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