Monofil Project On Hold, Again

Eklunta, Inc. wants to use land it owns within the bounds of the Municipality of Anchorage for what the Alaska Native corporation calls an “inert monofil.” or a non-toxic waste dump. In April of 2013, Eklutna had filed a two part application with the Muni’s community development department: a master plan for a rezone of 68 acres, and a conditional use permit for 17  acres, which would be used for the monofil.

But Maria Rentz, president of Chugiak’s Community Council, says the community is fighting the plan, because the land Ekluna wants for the project is adjacent to a park, and close to residences.

 Amost a year ago, the Anchorage planning commission voted down the master plan, and recommended that the Assembly reject the plan, as well.  But Eklutna appealed that decision,  triggering a long series of postponements that has kept an Assembly vote on the Planning commission’s resolution of rejection off the Anchorage Municipal Assembly agenda. Finally, it was scheduled for a public hearing next month, but, just as Tuesday night’s meeting began, Rentz got a message:

“There is an official request, I’m looking at it, that was sent from Eklutna today, asking for a minimum sic month postponement.”

 The issue was to have come up for an opening vote on the public hearing, at the request of Assemblyman Dick Traini, who moved it forward, he says, because ” the issue of a monofil site affects not just one part of our community, but the entire municipality.”

Rentz says she got  early word of the change last week, late on Friday. But it came with more disturbing information:

“Eklutna will be asking for a postponement on the opening of the public hearing, because there has been substantial contamination found”   Rentz says she’s been told the contamination is from a “municipal source.”

 Rentz say, if there actually is pollution, the issue will drag on. She says she wants Eklutna’s plan killed, entirely, and to postpone it again and again, thereby postponing a final vote, is not fair to the community.

The item was pulled from Tuesday night’s Municipal Assembly meeting agenda  at the request of Assemblymembers Bill Starr, who represents Eagle River and Amy Demboski, who represents Chugiak.   Assemblymember Demboski said she’s concerned about the turn of events.

“I do have serious concens about how we got here today… Because this has been such a delicate issue in our community, and because the Community Council has been very engaged, and they have a very specific timeline, I think it would be more prudent to give the municipality thirty days to evaluate the new informatin , and then we can always come back in a month and potpone it, if need be. “

 But  Assemblyman  Starr held out for another six month postponement.  Starr said
“Some information was brought to light based on water sampling which involved a municipal landfill that we closed some time ago. It adjoins the 85 acres (of Eklutna’s project).”

Starr says the new information is so new, that it will take at least six months to get all parties together to evaluate it.

“Nothing wrong with how we got here, I think it’s where do we go from here. “

Starr’s move prevailed, with a nine to two vote. Maria Rentz says she’s disappointed

 “This case has been dragging for two years, and now this significant postponement, of six month minimum, I think that significant postponement is very troublesome. I think if the site has been bound to be contaminated, I think that puts a whole different perspective on the entire project. “

So the public hearing is off, at least for another six months, while the source, and the type, of the contamination is determined.