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Council considers property sale

Daily News Staff Writer

The Ketchikan City Council is gearing up to sell the now-closed Ketchikan Regional Youth Facility.

On Thursday night, the City Council is expected to complete the first of two required reviews of a proposed city ordinance that would sanction the 623 Gateway Court facility as city surplus property, and therefore, ready for sale via competitive bidding.

The former youth detention center has been appraised at about $1.43 million, according to an Aug. 18 memo from City Manager Karl Amylon to Mayor Lew Williams III and the seven-member City Council.

If approved Thursday, the proposed city ordinance would be set for final approval during the council’s second regular meeting of the month on Sept. 21.

The Alaska Department of Health and Senior Services shuttered the detention center on Sept. 15, 2016, transferring all detained youth to Juneau.

With a maximum capacity of 10 detainees, the facility opened in 2002 as a short-term detention center for juveniles from Ketchikan, Prince of Wales Island, Wrangell, Petersburg, Metlakatla, Kake and other surrounding communities, according to the Department of Health and Senior Services.

Amylon said Wednesday that the state operated the detention center and owned the facility, with the city owning the property on which it sat. Under an agreement with the state, he said, ownership of the facility transfered to the city when the state ceased detention operations there.

Meanwhile, at least one party has declared a public interest in securing the property: Women in Safe Homes.

“WISH is definitely interested in the property, but, as in most things in life, it comes down to dollars and cents,” organization Executive Director Agnes Moran said Wednesday.

The nonprofit for battered and abused women essentially is “costing” the property, Moran said, looking at what it might take to renovate the facility from a detention center to a shelter and whether those renovations are financially feasible.

Rather than outright purchasing the facility, WISH would rather pursue a deed transfer, she said.

“We’re a long ways away from that,” Moran said. “And it’s all up to the city council. They (might) not be interested.”

If the sale ultimately is approved by the council, WISH and others could object the decision. The proposed ordinance allows for a referendum petition of the voting public, per city statute.

That means, if enough legal signatures are collected within one month of the official passage and publication of the ordinance, Ketchikan area voters ultimately can overturn affirmative council action to sell the property.

In other business Thursday, the City Council is expected to:

• Specify work to be completed with a $2 million state capital-improvement grant awarded for the 2018 fiscal year.

• Protest a proposed state marijuana cultivation facility license submitted by Jesse Hoyt and Jacob Rodriguez for Northern Lights 2 at 4705 N. Tongass Hwy., Apt. 1.

• Approve a proposed contract with the local Durette Construction for a $124,104 project to remediate lead and diesel-fuel contamination at 347 Bawden St., the former site of the Ketchikan General Hospital.

• Renew for one year a $42,000 contract with Ray Matiashowski & Associates to continue lobbying services on behalf of the city. The firm represents the city and Ketchikan Public Utilities on issues like legislation and funding requests, dealing with the state, according to Amylon.

A full meeting agenda is available at ktn-ak.us/current-agendas-and-minutes. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. Thursday at the City Council chambers at 334 Front St.