Many Nikiski residents said they want to improve their community’s image during a recent Nikiski Community Council meeting.
“We’ve got a reputation that’s so bad out here that (outsiders) won’t come unless they’re in two’s,” Tim Colbath said.
The council met Nov. 3 to update its action plan. The Nikiski Community Council became a not-for-profit corporation in 2000, Council President Fred Miller said, and it has since served as the “unified voice for Nikiski.”
“The community is an organization,” said Donna Peterson, forum facilitator, “but organizations over time, sometimes they just exist; sometimes they diminish — but our goal today is to thrive.”
To thrive, Colbath and many others said they needed their action plan to address improving the community’s image.
Colbath said a reason Nikiski has a bad reputation is because state troopers “don’t bother to enforce the law.”
“There was a family with children squatting in what was a condemned meth lab,” he said, “and their kids and their families as well as the animals were living there.”
Colbath said the troopers visited the site, but they did not take any action. He said the community needs to figure a way to make the state troopers more proactive in their community.
Poverty was another issue addressed.
“There is an unseen level of poverty here that some people hear, some people see and some people don’t know about,” Bonnie Miller said.
Miller, a volunteer at a Nikiski food bank, said the numbers of people seeking meals have doubled.
Other residents wanted to improve the communities “curb appeal” by removing abandoned cars and demolishing abandoned buildings.
But Fred Miller said that is not a new issue. Since 2008, the community council has received about $200,000 in grants, more than half of which has funded its junk vehicle removal project, according to a handout prepared by the community council.
Since 2009, the project has removed over 300 abandoned vehicles, according to the council’s website.
Other issues in Nikiski, residents said, are drug problems, lack of bike paths, poor drinking water and Department of Environmental Conservation enforcement, and dangerous intersections.
The 2001 action plan addresses some of the issues, such as unsafe intersections, Fred Miller said.
“Just because it’s been identified in a report doesn’t mean it’s going to get funded,” he said.
The 2001 plan lists the community’s top priorities, in order of importance, as beautification, preserving and improving quality of life, maintaining and expanding roads, and promotin projects that develop the community and “provide direct economic benefits” to residents.
Peterson recorded all the resident’s concerns and said the council will consider them all in the final draft of Niksiki’s action plan. Fred Miller said they will finish the plan no later than their next council meeting on Dec. 3.
The council added safety and health as a fifth goal to its future plan after the meeting, Peterson said.
Dan Schwartz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.