Council approves Greatland Street project

After bringing a proposed Greatland Street project back to the Homer City Council for a second public hearing, the Homer City Council on Monday night tied on the question of moving the project forward and supporting Option A, extending the street straight to Pioneer Avenue.

Homer Mayor Bryan Zak broke the tie and joined council members Shelly Erickson, Heath Smith and Tom Stroozas in a yes vote.

Council members Donna Aderhold, David Lewis and Catriona Reynolds voted no on Ordinance 17-05(a).

Option A appropriates $671,053 from the Homer Accelerated Roads/Trails Program to build a north-south extension. That would connect Greatland Street between the Sterling Highway west of Main Street and to Pioneer Avenue — adding a fourth north-south connector between downtown Homer’s two main avenues.

Erickson introduced an amendment limiting Greatland Street to right turns only onto the Sterling Highway or Bypass and to Pioneer Avenue. Smith, a UPS driver, balked at that idea. He said that would create too much confusion, and that drivers would just circumvent the restriction by taking rights and then turning around through parking lots. A right turn on Pioneer Avenue also would keep people from turning left to go to Bartlett Street and the main entrance to South Peninsula Hospital.

Stroozas agreed with Smith.

“I think it would create more confusion and create more public safety issues than we solve,” he said.

Erickson’s amendment failed.

Lewis said he objected to the Greatland Street extension because he did not see a recommendation from the Homer Advisory Planning Commission or from state traffic engineers. Aderhold agreed with Lewis.

When the council introduced Ordinance 17-05(a) at its Jan. 23 meeting, it referred the ordinance to the planning commission for more review. The commission recommended not moving ahead, but said if the council did want to expand Greatland Street, it should approve Option C, extending Greatland Street to the west and north, connecting at Bartlett Street.

Public Works Director Carey Meyer said Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities traffic engineers. recommend not putting traffic signals closer than 0.25-mile and minimizing intersections on Pioneer Avenue. Erickson said she had problems with Option C, the Bartlett Street intersection, because of a hill and curve on West Pioneer Avenue as it approaches Bartlett Street. A stop light would make getting up that hill a problem for some vehicles in the winter with ice and snow.

The city transportation plan supports more cross town connectors like the east-west extension between Bartlett Street and Greatland Street. Another option, Option B, would extend that street to Main Street.

Lewis introduced an amendment deleting a section supporting Option A that said the council supported it based on the “recommendations of the Homer Transportation Plan.” That amendment passed.

If the Town Center east of Main Street ever got developed, that also would connect it to Bartlett Street. Smith said the transportation plan was outdated and the Town Center’s future remains unknown. He also opposed taking three lots off the tax rolls, as would happen with connecting to Bartlett Street.

Stroozas supported Option A for the same reason, he said. It will open up more lots and increase property values.

“If we kick the can down the road, we’ll never be able to build this straight-line project for $600,000,” he said. “This would be a great asset to our community to have another egress way up to Pioneer Avenue.”

In other Homer City Council action, the council considered these resolutions or memorandums:

• Passed Memorandum 17-097, introduced by council member Heath Smith, directing City Planner Rick Abboud to draft changes to zoning in the Marine Commercial District to allow Spit businesses to use motorhomes for caretakers and housing employees and guests. Smith said several businesses already do that, but that’s technically in violation of zoning;

• Defeated Resolution 17-070, authorizing the city manager to schedule a public meeting in the fall and develop an online or telephone survy to collect input on a new police station; and

• Passed Resolution 17-067, directing City Manager Katie Koester to apply for a $125,000 Alaska Land and Water Conservation Grant to help build new bathrooms at Ramp 2, the oldest and most heavily used bathrooms on the Homer Spit. In a memo, Koester presented the council with several options ranging from $593,000 for a stick-frame building with the same configuration of indoor stalls to an $813,000 building with 12 individual stalls similar to the End of the Road Park bathrooms.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at michael.armstrong@homernews.com.

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