Tucked in the $80-plus million budget approved by the borough assembly last week was additional funding to deal with junk vehicles in borough rights away. Assembly member Willy Dunne proposed adding $30,000 to the road service area to address the issue.
Across the borough, you’ll find narrow, dusty, little used roads, many of which wind off the beaten path into little more than a game trail. At the end of some of those roads are ever-growing piles of junk; cars, boats, appliances of all sorts. Stuff that’s not always easy or cheap to get rid of properly. Borough assembly member Willy Dunne says he heard gripes about derelict vehicles on the southern peninsula on social media.
“And the constituents had been talking with the borough for quite awhile and they were under the impression that the borough did not have funding to deal with the issue.”
This isn’t a particularly new issue. As long as cars have been driven to death on the peninsula, at least some have been left in far flung spots to embark on their final corrosion. Former borough mayor Dale Bagley started a program during his tenure in that office more than 15 years ago. But funding to deal with physically hauling those items off borough lands has dwindled and isn’t sufficient to keep up with the problem, Dunne says.
“There are quite a few vehicles. I’ve seen ones that have warnings on them, a pink card that says it’s in the way of maintenance equipment. But they’re still not moved and their obviously abandoned and not driveable. I know that for awhile, there was quite a bit of funding for that. And it really helped a lot. But right now, $3,000 just seems inadequate.” (0:24)
Borough mayor Charlie Pierce said he appreciates the extra funding in the budget, and that his office is ready to clean up some of those junk sites.
“We’re going to be aggressive about it. We’re going to go out there and we’re going to enforce our code. And you can anticipate we’re going to follow some of these owners that have abandoned those vehicles in the rights of way and we’re going to hold them accountable, so there could be some legal expense as well, that is incurred by us going after these individuals. We’ll do some advertising as well, to make sure folks understand what the codes are and try to reach some level of cooperation with them before we take necessary actions.”
He says he doesn’t want broken down vehicles parked on or very near the road to get in the way of borough staff or first responders trying to get where they need to be.
“They’re serious problems. They’re parking vehicles along the edge of the rights of way in Homer and ingress and egress is questionable. There’s folks that live beyond there that may need to be assisted at some point and I’d hate to see a situation arise to where an emergency vehicle cannot reach someone in need.”
Dunne’s amendment to add the extra funding passed unanimously.