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By Dan Rudy 

Silvernail proving thorn in borough's side


Field trips aren’t just for elementary school students, as Wrangell Planning and Zoning commissioners decided Thursday they will need to examine a request to vacate public property first-hand before reaching a final decision.

The request to vacate came from The Bay Company, a marine and sports equipment business on Front Street and neighbor to Silvernail Work Road. Currently a portion of the road serves as a northeastern access point to the Marine Service Center (MSC), but the remainder that would link up with Episcopal Street remains conceptual.

“I don’t think Silvernail will ever go through, nor do I think it’s needed,” said Greg Meissner, Wrangell’s harbormaster. A portion of the property to be vacated belongs to the MSC beyond its present fencing, which Meissner said he recommend disposing of.

The Bay Company would like to purchase an undeveloped section of the road bordering its property, as well as an alley connecting Front Street to Silvernail running between the company and MSC. That would have the borough vacate all the way to the Marine Service Center lot’s fence line. Bay Company currently makes use of the property for equipment storage, but would like to be able to fill in and fence off their yard.

“Usage is fine, but if we don’t own it then I don’t want to pay

to improve it,” explained

David Powell, Bay Company’s


Another issue is the presence of power lines that pass overhead. Public Works director Carl Johnson explained an easement would need to be secured before the property could be disposed of, one way or another.

Chairperson Terri Henson did not feel comfortable coming to a decision just yet, as the commission hasn’t had a chance to inspect the property and have the situation better explained. Henson also thought it would be foolish to vacate only a portion of Silvernail road, which would present a bottleneck later on if it were ever completed.

“That only creates issues down the line,” she said. At this point, Henson said she supported leasing the property for now while working for a more lasting solution.

Johnson said he hoped the commission would make sure the situation gets fully resolved, pointing out a number of verbal agreements that currently guide the use of the property which fail to give utilities the formal protection of an easement.

“I’m sure you’ll carry it through, but I just encourage you,” he said. “It needs to be platted.”

“We’re going to need to have a field day,” Henson told them, with somebody knowledgeable to give commissioners a better idea of the situation.

After discussing their options, commissioners decided to meet Sept. 23 at 4 p.m. to examine the property.

And if the borough has no future need for that property?

“Then by golly, we need to vacate all of it,” she said. “We’re going to have to have access,” she added, for maintenance purposes of the power lines. But this would have to be decided in greater detail later.

Commissioner Don McConachie explained that the parcel is a holdover from the old mill property. The road once served as a demarcating line for neighboring property owners, and was developed before the MSC was established.

“It was a beginning; that’s what it was,” he told fellow commissioners. “There was nothing in there to say this was written in stone.”


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