Council discusses sidewalk ordinance

The Cowles Council Chambers were almost full on Monday as the Sept. 26 Homer City Council regular meeting kicked off. People who had previously been attending via Zoom were in-person, and there wasn’t a single masked face within the room.

Lorne Carroll, a public health nurse who had been reporting to the council on COVID-19 both worldwide and locally, was present to give his supposed last report. During his presentation he addressed the question, “Is the pandemic over?”

“I’m not sure I have a good answer,” Carroll said. “We’ve had a lot of progress, [but] it’s still a threat.”

The majority of council discussion centered on Ordinance 22-42(S), which would change street construction, design and dedication requirements in attempts to accommodate non-motorized users.

The original ordinance stated that “new streets to be accepted by the City and which serve as public access corridors shall have a dedicated pedestrian trail or path…” However, after discussion the council amended this verbiage, changing “shall have” to “may be required to have.” The matter of what will prove sufficient to meet the requirements was discussed.

Deb Lowney and Pat Case, two avid Homer walkers who are strong proponents of ADA compliance and people-first transportation, both spoke about the issues of connectivity when imagining new codes for street construction.

“You can’t have a 100-foot section and then an issue to get to the next section, because you might as well not even have the sidewalks,” Case said.

Lowney also emphasized the importance of putting sidewalks in the right places rather than all places, saying “make those connections so that we don’t have to build all these sidewalks, but yet we have safe accessible routes for pedestrians.”

Director of Public Works Jan Keiser also spoke about the ordinance. “I’m gonna be the one that has to enforce this. …I’m looking for some criteria,” she said.

After discussion the council agreed they would need more information and time before feeling the ordinance was complete. Given the inability to provide sufficient criteria at the time, the council voted to postpone the adoption of the amended ordinance until the Oct. 10 meeting.

Additionally, due to the adoption of twice amended Ordinance 22-53, a new Americans with Disabilities Act board was created.

The Americans with Disabilities Act Advisory Board was officially ordained, replacing a previous incarnation as a committee. With more responsibilities and opportunities, the new board could have a larger influence on city development in the future.

Ordinance 22-61 was also adopted, which made changes to the City Fee Schedule and changed water and sewer rates in Homer. While the price per gallon increased slightly, some of the service fees were dropped.

Other notable ordinances adopted were:Ordinance 22-57, Funding Skyline Fire Station Fence

Ordinance 22-59, Amending Lease Fees in City Fee Schedule

Ordinance 22-65, Commercial Passenger Vessel Tax Grant for Crane #7

The next Homer City Council Regular Meeting will be at 6 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 10, in the Cowles Council Chambers, Homer City Hall. The council also will certify the results of the Oct. 4 election.

Reach Charlie Menke at