Assembly approves Institute logging road proposal
The Borough Assembly unanimously approved on Tuesday night a request from Alcan Forest Products to lease a portion of the former Wrangell Institute property for a timber sale contracted with the landowner, the Alaska Mental Health Trust.
The proposal from Alcan would be for a 100-foot-wide wide easement where a proposed logging road would be located. Alcan would install the road and a gate would be installed between MHT and Borough property to restrict access. In exchange for the use of the land and possession of the timber, the City and Borough of Wrangell would receive $17,000.
According to Borough Manager Tim Rooney, the maximum time frame for the use of the property would be for a total of 18 months. A previous proposal from Alcan included a request to store timber on the property, though that request has been rescinded.
A similar request to use the area for log storage was filed with the city earlier this year by Whale Bay Woods. That request was withdrawn after Alcan won the bid for logging the MHT property.
Rooney added that the new plan takes into consideration many of the issues nearby residents had with the plan to access the property.
“As you may recall, the City and Borough of Wrangell received several complaints from concerned residents near the site of the MHT land that will be logged,” Rooney stated. “A large focus of those complaints centered on the truck access to the MHT land and its proximity to nearby residential dwellings. At the time, concerned citizens as well as members of the Borough Assembly asked that something be done, if possible, to address these concerns and provide an alternative access to the MHT site.”
According to Rooney, the leasing of the property would benefit the city in the long run.
“While it is difficult to fully estimate the value of the timber that Alcan will be receiving from the property without a timber expert walking, inspecting, and surveying the property, there is certainly value to the City and Borough of Wrangell, Alcan, and MHT to enter into this lease agreement,” Rooney added. “The City and Borough of Wrangell will be left with the benefit of a logging road through the property that could be used for future development on the site; Alcan achieves more direct access to portions of the MHT land and receives some additional timber from the former Institute Property; and both the City and Borough of Wrangell and MHT alleviates and addresses the largest concern from nearby and neighboring property owners.”