Winter in Unalaska by Sam Zmolek
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CITY COUNCIL

  • A city proposal to allow all-purpose vehicles on Unalaska’s streets failed to move forward Tuesday. The Unalaska City Council voted against allowing the ordinance to proceed to its next meeting. Unalaska currently prohibits the use of all-purpose vehicles — like four-wheelers and all-terrain vehicles — on city streets. But a state law that went into effect this year opens the door to allow these modes of transport on public roads in places not prohibited by local law or ordinance.
  • Unalaska’s city manager will leave her post in less than three months, when her three-year contract with the city comes to an end on May 31. City Manager Erin Reinders sent an email Wednesday afternoon to city staff announcing her departure. Reinders said she was notified Tuesday morning that the Unalaska City Council would not be renewing her contract for another term.
  • City Manager Erin Reinders announced at Tuesday’s City Council meeting that the number of reported COVID-19 infections had fallen to zero for the first time since the winter surge, when confirmed cases numbered in the hundreds. Also at the meeting, the city’s planning director, Bil Homka, presented the results from a survey that measures the quality of life in Unalaska. Unalaska City Council members also reviewed a cost benefit analysis for the Captains Bay Road improvement project, the city’s most expensive capital project.
  • Trident Seafoods is set to expand its reach in Unalaska. The City Council on Tuesday approved the transfer of a tidelands lease in Captains Bay to one of Trident’s subsidiaries, LFS, which already operates a retail shop on the island. Jarred Brand oversees site development for LFS. While LFS sells commercial and sport marine supplies, Brand says they haven’t decided exactly what they’ll do with the land, but they’ll explore options and begin construction in the coming year.
  • The Unalaska City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday night to support a partial tax exemption for federally recognized tribes. The exemption would protect tribes from paying sales taxes on government activities, like buying office supplies or organizing culture camps. The city council’s vote in support on Tuesday moves the proposed tax exemption forward another step. The council is set to take another vote in early February to officially add the exemption to city code. The Qawalangin Tribe of Unalaska requested the exemption. It was previously exempt from city sales tax as a nonprofit. But the city changed the criteria for nonprofit exemptions several years ago, and then the tribe no longer qualified.
  • A local state of emergency that allowed the City of Unalaska to enact protective measures against COVID-19 will expire Friday. City Council took no action at a meeting Tuesday night to extend the declaration, which has been in place since the pandemic began in March 2020. When the declaration expires, the city will no longer be able to issue protective measures — like mask mandates — unless a new emergency is declared.
  • The Unalaska Public Library is getting a face-lift. The city council voted 4-2 at Tuesday night’s meeting in favor of expanding the library, a project that had stalled out after its initial approval nearly two years ago. The Library Expansion Project was initially adopted in Jan. 2020, but the plan was scrapped because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was picked up again the next year, and the city received bids in November. The lowest one came in at around $6.5 million dollars, a bit lower than the original estimate.
  • Representatives from the City of Unalaska are traveling to Washington, D.C. next week. The federal lobbying trip is a chance for city leaders to meet with Washington delegation members, and make a case for the island’s top legislative and financial needs.Council member Dennis Robinson serves as the Vice Mayor of Unalaska, and he’ll be on that trip. He sat down with KUCB’s Theo Greenly to talk about what he hopes to accomplish in Washington.
  • The City of Unalaska is preparing for major budget reductions. At Tuesday evening’s City Council meeting, City Manager Erin Reinders told council members that the recent red king crab closure, and major reductions in the snow crab fishery, will hit the city hard.
  • Unalaska’s mask mandate expired at noon on Wednesday, as local COVID-19 cases continue to decline.City council members voted unanimously at their Tuesday meeting to “encourage” face coverings, as opposed to requiring them. The city had enforced a mask requirement since Aug. 25, when the community experienced a surge of confirmed COVID-19 cases. At its peak, the city reported 30 cases of the virus.