Whittier hires harbormaster for city manager position
Ken Smith/Turnagain Times
A crew from the Department of Defense clears debris from a recently torn down fuel tank. The site is being cleared and contaminants removed from the ground leftover from jet fuel stored in the tanks. A fuel line extended from the tanks in Whittier to Elmendorf Air Force Base. Once the site is cleaned up, the city would like to obtain the land for commercial development.
The city of Whittier didn't need to look far to fill the city manager position that has remained open since Mark Earnest left in February for a job in Haines as the borough manager.
The city council voted 5-2 to hire Ed Barrett, 59, as the city manager on a month to month basis for a salary of $118,000 per year. Barrett has been the interim city manager since Earnest's departure
“I offered to stay in the position, and the council approved giving me the position,” Barrett said. “The city council wanted to reserve the right to have an evaluation period, and, at the same time, I will negotiate a contract with them.”
The city manager position has experienced high turnover with three different people holding the position in the last 10 years.
Barrett has been the harbormaster for the last three years. He was offered a job as the harbormaster in Haines at the same time Earnest was selected as the borough manager, but he turned it down.
“I don't have a crystal ball, but I've been in Whittier for three years, and I don't anticipate leaving anytime soon,” Barrett said.
He also feels committed to the job because of three major capital projects that are in the works.
The first project is the extension of the road to Shotgun Cove. Currently there is only about one-quarter-of-a-mile of road completed along with a bridge that was constructed over a creek to Smitty's Cove. Land is also slated to be platted and surveyed this summer in Shotgun Cove, which will lead to the sale of lots that have been eagerly anticipated by local residents and outside prospectors as well.
“We are platting and taking bids for a contractor for segment two of the plan,” Barrett said.
The second project is a $16 million reconstruction of the city harbor, and the third project is the development of the head of Passage Canal.
“We expect to break ground on a parking lot and boat launch for trailer boats,” he said, in regard to the Passage Canal project.
Another major project that is currently going on and one that will significantly contribute to the development of Whittier's waterfront is the Department of Defense's work on tearing down fuel tanks at the head of Passage Canal—the tanks are to the right of the Anton Anderson Tunnel entrance when heading out of Whittier.
The fuel tanks have been there for a few decades and stored jet fuel for Elmendorf Air Force Base. A jet fuel line runs from the tanks to the air-force base, but Barrett said he doesn't believe the fuel was utilized much over the years.
Once the fuel tanks are torn down, the remaining contaminants will be removed, opening up the land to development. The clean-up is expected to be completed by this fall, at which time, Barrett said the city council is going to ask the Department of Defense to divest the property to the city.
“The city would like to add it to the head of Passage Canal development plan and offer commercial leases, like a boat repair shop, ship-yard, and commercial businesses,” Barrett said.
Now that the city manager position is filled, the harbormaster job is still open, but that is expected to be offered to the deputy harbormaster Sue Miller. That will leave one final vacancy for a city accountant. The city is currently accepting applications for that position.