Help needed to determine Cordova’s future

Draft comprehensive plan update offers many goals, how to achieve them

Cordova, Alaska. (Photo by Emily Mesner/The Cordova Times)

Designers of the draft Cordova comprehensive plan update say now is the time for residents to study and offer feedback on this preliminary plan, which will guide decision-making on everything from housing to recreation in future years.

The plan identifies the community’s long-term goals and policies to ensure progress toward a shared vision, designers said. Their hope is that the plan will also send a message to regional, state and federal partners about Cordova’s priorities, and how the community is taking action.

In the area of economic development, the draft plan identifies four goals, including support for Cordova’s seafood industry and diversification to expand the economic with a focus on year-round employment, through expansion of winter fisheries and value-added processing.

Sample actions to support stronger economic development include updating and implementing the harbor master plan, with a phased approach and potential funding sources for long-term harbor upgrades and working with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to identify and open new winter fisheries close to Cordova. Others are offering business counseling and training through the Cordova Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Alaska Small Business Development Center, and incentives for demolition and/or redevelopment of aging properties, such as tax abatement or a revolving loan program.

In the area of fiscal health, public facilities and services, draft plan goals include working towards increasingly self-supporting, sustainable government, with less reliance on state and federal funding. Suggested sample action includes development of a facilities plan that identifies and plans for short, medium and long-term needs, including establishment of repair/ replacement pans with dedicated funding sources. Another is investment in training, so that local contractors and city staff can better implement necessary utility and facility systems repairs and maintenance. The draft plan also suggests creation of an updated Cordova water and sewer mater plan, focused om securing expanded and more reliable year-round water supply, and continuing to investigate options for meeting electrical energy needs and reducing cost of electricity.

The draft plan answers questions about how residents value schools, harbor and access to the outdoors. 

It also addresses challenges that make it hard to live in Cordova, including the high cost of living and limited transportation access, and how to work collaboratively to achieve priorities.

The draft plan shows the top valued and most challenging things about life in Cordova include the sense of small-town community access to outdoor recreation, safe and family friendly environment, and the abundance of natural resources. Others include access to subsistence opportunities, beautiful landscapes, quality schools, volunteering and commitment to community, support for local businesses, and the community’s history and culture.

The top five challenges identified in the draft report are the high cost of living, lack of affordable housing, limited ferry access, lack of economic diversity and an aged harbor. Rounding out that list are the challenges of limited winter employment opportunities, difficulty of operating and maintaining public facilities, limited options for growth due to limited land base, limited tourism infrastructure and activities, and a small work force with limited training and certification options.

To participate by offering comment on the draft plan visit cordovacompplan.com. Or pick up a hard copy of the plan and comment form at the Cordova City Hall.

Reach project team contacts: city planner Leif Stavig at 907-424-6220 and planning@cityofcordova.net, and Agnew::Beck project manager Shelly Wade at 907-242-5326 and shelly@agnewbeck.com.