Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966


Borough juggles planning tasks


Confused about all the planning going on at the Haines Borough?

The assembly is working on a “strategic plan,” a brief, “to-do list” of upcoming projects for elected leaders, and a “comprehensive plan,” a blueprint that addresses a range of community concerns. The “comp plan” is intended to help steer borough decision-making for the next five to eight years.

At its first meeting on the strategic plan, the assembly identified eight goals for 2012-13: 1) Holding a committee-of-the-whole meeting to discuss borough buildings; 2) Identifying essential pieces of equipment; 3) Making better informed and more involved budget decisions; 4) Conducting a communication meeting this summer; 5) Refining and using a project-decision matrix; 6) Revisiting Alaska Public Offices Commission requirements on financial disclosure for elections; 7) Revising appointment procedures for vacancies; and, 8) Investigating new approaches for electing assembly members.

“It’s structured the way it is because we don’t need a lot of text telling us why we’re going to do what we’re going to do,” said Mayor Stephanie Scott. “We just need to roll up our sleeves and do it.”

Members recently appropriated $3,750 for strategic planning, and consultant Lenise Henderson Fontenot facilitated the first strategic planning workshop in February. “The goal is to be proactive in leadership, so they discuss important subjects and decide on priorities, to-do lists and action plans,” Henderson Fontenot said.

She said the building meeting has been scheduled for Tuesday, April 17, and she expects to facilitate at least one additional meeting as part of the planning process.

The borough’s comprehensive plan was last updated in 2004.

“You usually update your comprehensive plan every five to eight years, but you’re looking out 20 years into the future, so we’re looking at logical, utility extension areas and things like that,” said Barbara Sheinberg, a Juneau consultant coordinating the project.

The borough website summarizes the plan as a “community blueprint” that will “lay out Haines’ desired future, goals to achieve this future, and describe specific ways the community can use and manage resources, land and investments to achieve this desired future.”

The yearlong process of preparing a new plan was expected to cost around $100,000.

Sheinberg said a draft plan should be ready for public review by early next month.

“In April, there’s going to be one or two town meetings, which will be additional opportunities for people to come and hear about the plan and look at chapters or draft goals and actions or maps, and comment on them,” she said.

Planning kicked off last spring with a scientific survey of about 200 randomly-selected households, and Sheinberg presented the results at a June town hall meeting. She has since attended several work sessions with members of the Haines Borough Planning Commission, which will be tasked with adopting the final version this spring.

The plan’s goals, objectives and actions cover quality of life; Haines Borough government; economic development; transportation; parks, recreation and open space; land use and future growth; utilities; public safety; and public services.

“We’ve done a 20-year population and housing projection, and based on that, said, ‘What will we need to accommodate 460 more people, 20 years from now?’” Sheinberg said. “We know that a number of them will be older if trends continue, and if we’re successful in our economic development strategies, we’ll be really working hard to attract and retain young families.”