Borough To Ask Ferry Debt Forgiveness

 The Matanuska Susitna Borough is appealing to top US officials to resolve the Borough’s 12 million dollar ferry debt.

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According to Borough manager John Moosey, the Borough Assembly on Thursday directed him to enter into negotiations with federal officials over the resolution of the debt the Borough owes the Federal Transit Administration. Moosey says that US Secretary of Transportation, Anthony Foxx, was in Wasilla about a week ago, and met privately with Borough officials.  Moosey said Friday that “he opened the door for us to have that meeting in discussion with his staff in seeking a resolution to this matter”.

 The U.S. Navy built the 80 million dollar ferry as a prototype, and the Borough was given the ship free of charge, but with federal grant money restrictions attached. The Borough failed to initiate ferry passenger service across Knik Arm from Port MacKenzie to Anchorage, and now the FTA wants it’s money back.

Borough Assemblyman Jim Sykes says about four million dollars out of the 12 million in ferry grants was used to build a ferry terminal building at Port MacKenzie. He says the Borough may have to foot that bill.  Sykes says  it’s his hope that the FTA will see that the Borough has done everything it could to resolve the ferry problem.

“We made a good faith effort to make this project work, and it is simply beyond our authority to force other governments or other entities to do stuff that’s not under our authority. We can’t force Anchorage to build a place to land the craft. It is a project that involves several jurisdictions, and we really can do what we can do, but that’s not going to result in a completed project. So, I am hoping that the federal government will see that we have made a good faith effort. “

The Borough’s plan to use the ice breaking ferry for transportation across Knik Arm hit a snag when the city of Anchorage and the Borough could not agree on a site for an Anchorage dock for the ship.