SOLITARY SCENE

On this mid-October night, there was not a vehicle in sight on Broadway, just the street lights and the glow from the Mascot building. The Red Onion had closed for the season, Moe’s was closed for the night, and the News editor had snuffed the pre-midnight oil.

Photo by Jeff Brady
New land zone ready for review
P&Z to hold hearing on proposed Residential Low Density zone

By JEFF BRADY
The Planning and Zoning Commission has completed its final mark-ups on a proposed city ordinance that creates a new Residential Low Density zone (RDL) for a portion of the 900-acre municipal land entitlement along the Dyea Road.
The city finally received the patent to the land from the state earlier this month, and the proposed ordinance will be formally presented at a public hearing before the commission at 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 9 at City Hall. If approved, it would go on to the City Council.
According to the draft ordinance, the new zoning district, which includes all of Dyea Point and both sides of the road corridor down to Dyea itself, “is intended to provide an area for low to moderate density residential development on adequate lot sizes to preserve the natural beauty of the area.” It also creates a park of 10 acres at Dyea Point, prohibits businesses, and allows limited housing rentals by conditional use.
Principal uses include: public parks and open space recreation; watershed reserve; single family residences and two-family duplexes with private garages per living unit; non-commercial public water, sewer, electrical and communication facilities; and municipal public facilities such as a fire department sub-station, solid waste transfer station, public works sub-station, and emergency services landing area.
The ordinance also allows outbuildings not to exceed 320 sq. ft. under the realm of storage structures (no trailers or containers), generator shed, tool shed, greenhouse, well house, wood shed. Private personal gardens also are allowed. Conditional uses include churches, day cares, recreational cabins, and temporary structures such as RVs for 18 months during building and land development, and certain accessory housing structures of 300-600 sq. ft. that have their own water, sewer and electricity.
Stricken from the ordinance at a work session on Oct. 20 was a proposed conditional uses that would have allowed commercial or non-profit recreation cabins, lodges and day camps.

LIDAR LOOK - Planning and Zoning commissioners and the public examine the proposed RDL boundaries. JB

The proposed commercial section was a point of contention between P&Z Chair Deb Steidel and current Dyea Point residents Michael Yee and Cara Cosgrove.
Steidel said it would have been nice to have cabins or a hillside lodge to take relatives to, or even to have a scout camp. But Cosgrove and Yee said such uses could add to the commercial traffic already on the road, and would run counter to the purpose of the land entitlement.
“I thought the goal of the area was more houses,” Cosgrove said.
“There are a lot of goals,” Steidel responded.
Yee then added that the low density zone should “preserve a quality of life for those already out there,” and Cosgrove added that local people wanted “a completely residential area.”
Commissioner Gary Brummett suggested allowing “mother-in-law cabins,” but Yee said that’s a lot different from a bed and breakfast.
“Okay, take it out,” Steidel said, and that was it.
The commission breezed through a prohibited use list that includes mobile homes; congregate housing; sand, gravel, mining and quarry operations; kennels; timber harvesting; cemeteries; pipelines and railroads; commercial recreation; commercial greenhouses; and campgrounds.
Existing property owners as of the date of the ordinance can subdivide their land into one-acre parcels, otherwise the minimum lot size shall be 2.5 acres. To preserve the character of the surrounding land, maximum lot coverage by buildings shall be 15 percent, and no building can be more than three stories or 35 feet tall. Sanitary and septic facilities must be stamped by an Alaska-licensed engineer, and water table data must be submitted to the state DEC and city.
Those present then took a look at the LIDAR map generated from the air by R&M Engineering. It currently shows 34 possible lots in the new zone, but that number is high and will change once the engineers hit the ground this fall with their survey instruments.
At the Oct. 19 City Council meeting, Mayor Tim Bourcy announced that the patent to the lands had finally shown up at City Hall.
“We are on our way,” he said. “We’ve been working on it since 1996.”
He hopes to have a land sale next spring.

Washed out road, Alaskans to rescue

By JEFF BRADY
A Skagway vehicle with three occupants was stuck between slides on the Richardson Highway Monday Oct. 9 while en route to Valdez for the annual Alaska Tourism Industry Association conference.
It was an emotional beginning to a memorable convention.
Tom and Judy Hall, owners of the Klondike Gold Dredge, were driving their truck to Valdez when the big rains hit – more than nine inches would fall over a 24-hour period. They had Jennifer Slaughter of Princess Tours along as a passenger.
Other vehicles from Skagway had made it. Tourism Director Buckwheat Donahue said the waterfalls were starting to hit the road when he went through before dark.
But the Halls got a later start. They made it over Thompson Pass and down into Keystone Canyon, and that’s when it got gnarly.
“It was dark and we were going through some water,” Tom Hall said. “It wasn’t frightening at all until we looked at it later in the daytime.”
Eventually, they were stopped and turned around by a DOT crew, just 18 miles from Valdez where the Lowe River had washed out a section of road.
Back up the pass they went, but not very far, only to about Mile 50. There, they were stopped by another DOT crew that said slides had blocked the road north.
“They said there was no way out,” Hall said.
They were stuck in the middle, but they were not alone.
“Basically, we ended up hooking up with others,” he said. There was a group from Premier Tours, and some others from Valdez. They gathered at the Healy Port Lodge about 2 a.m. and spent the night in their vehicles.
The next morning, some caretakers opened up the whole lodge for the group, and there they stayed until late in the afternoon when a DOT worker invited them to follow him to their camp atop Thompson Pass.
“We followed his loader,” Hall said. “He took us through about 8 or 10 slides but he got us down there. Then he went home and got us some food. There were about 16 of us there.”
All were fed, and that’s where they spent Tuesday night.
The next morning, the weather was good enough to allow an Alaska State Trooper helicopter to land, and it shuttled eight people, including Slaughter, to Glennallen.
But the Halls stayed with their truck. A Valdez woman, Mary Pyle, made some calls and the next day, they all drove down toward Valdez. They parked their rigs at “the same spot where we got stopped, 18 miles away.”
DOT workers placed 4 inch by 12 inch planks across the section of road that had washed out, and they crossed to the other side, Hall said.
“The whole thing wasn’t scary to anybody until then, when we saw what had happened.,” he said.
A bus was waiting for them, and they rode with Pyle on into Valdez to join the last days of the convention.
Hall said it was an emotional time for many of the delegates, not just because of the weather. Dave Monson got up to talk about his wife, the late musher Susan Butcher, and John Binkley spoke about his father, the late Capt. Jim Binkley of the Riverboat Discovery. Both passed away in the last year.
But Skagway delegates and many others were lifted by the announcement that Gary Danielson had received the Lifetime Achievement Award.
“I personally feel that it’s a major thing – a star for all of Skagway,” Hall said. “Gary’s award is a compliment to the whole community and White Pass.”
Like everyone else, the Halls then had to wait for a ferry to get out of Valdez. The Richardson Highway would be closed another week, at least.
But what about their truck?
“Mary said she’d go up after they fixed the road and get our rig, and last Monday she got it out of there and over to Whittier on the ferry,” Hall said.
Tom and Judy, who had ferried over earlier and stayed in Anchorage a few days, went back down to Whittier to pick up the truck. They arrived back home in Skagway last weekend.
“In the end, the nice thing was you sure can’t beat the hospitality,” Tom said. “There was a guy with us who had never been to Alaska. Guys running home and getting their own food for us. He was amazed.”

WP&YR’S Gary Danielson receives ATIA’s Lifetime Achievement Award

White Pass & Yukon Route President Gary C. Danielson was awarded the Alaska Tourism Industry Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award on Oct. 12 at the organizations’ annual convention in Valdez.
Danielson said he was “humbled and overwhelmed” by the award, quipping that he’s not done with his lifetime nor achievement just yet.
According to ATIA, the Lifetime Achievement Award is not a standing annual award, and shall “be conferred upon an individual who has demonstrated lifelong support of and leadership in Alaska tourism, promoted industry standards of excellence, and contributed to the industry’s growth as a whole.”
Gary Odle of Alaska Travel Adventures presented the award to Danielson, whom he called his mentor. Danielson gave Odle his first job selling Alaska.
Odle said Danielson’s career had taken many paths, including air, cruises, tours, and public service in many locations. “The variety and diversity of locations where he worked no doubt were inspiration to the developers of Mapquest,” Odle said.
“Whether he was selling the Alaska dream to travel, trade, media and consumers in the Midwest, Los Angeles, and Seattle of working with DMOs (Destination Marketing Organizations) in Fairbanks, Juneau and Skagway to entice more visitors north, his love of Alaska and his enthusiasm in promoting Alaska to prospective visitors was always evident.”
Danielson has been either chairman or a board member of several tourism organizations in Alaska and the Yukon, including the Alaska Visitor Association before it became ATIA. He chaired two conventions and briefly formed a vocal group, “Johnny Juneau and the Snowflakes” with Odle as a back-up singer. “It was doomed from the beginning,” Odle joked.
Odle added that “growing up, he had an interest in model trains and was also a history buff. So it’s not surprising that he now heads up a railroad with a distinguished history.”

Gary Danielson (left) is presented the ATIA award from Gary Odle. Photo by Clark James Mishler courtesy of ATIA

Danielson first moved to Skagway to work as director of the railroad’s passenger division in the 1970s, returned for a couple years as the city’s tourism director in the late 1980s, and came back to the railroad in 1999. He was promoted to vice president for marketing in 2001, executive vice president in 2002, and president of the White Pass Group of Companies in January 2003.
In his acceptance speech, Danielson said, “I can’t believe it’s been a lifetime, but I started in the industry 43 years ago with Northwest Airlines, so I guess it has been.”
He said his life’s direction changed 33 years ago when he was called to join Alaska Airlines in Seattle, thus joining the Alaska travel industry.
“I said it was a wonderful time in that I learned the history and the passion for the industry by the true pioneers of the industry then and I valued that time greatly,” he continued. “I talked about all the people in the industry that have helped me along the way to achieve things I didn’t believe possible.”
Danielson closed by “thanking everyone for giving me the opportunity to have a 33 year love affair with an industry, a
destination and it’s people and yes, with my employees.”
He also thanked his wife Margo “for standing by me and
all my decisions good or bad for 41 years.” – JEFF BRADY

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PHOTO OF THE WEEK

BIG SAVE

Sierra Moran slides on her knees to save a point for the Panthers in their upset over defending region champ Hoonah at the Skagway Invitational Tournament. See story and more photos in on the SHS Activities page below. Jeff Brady

• SHS ACTIVITIES: Skagway knocks off defending champs in volleyball; Wrestling well in Wrangell; DDF team off to great start

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