Thanks to Kathryn Dodge and Mayor Jim Matherly for taking the time to answer these downtown-specific questions.
Remember, municipal elections are Tuesday, October 1st!
1. What has your administration done or will it do to ensure that city services are delivered to the downtown core proactively rather than on the basis of complaints?
Kathryn Dodge: First off, I’d like to recognize that our people in public safety, public works, and at city hall are working hard to deliver good services to our community. I appreciate that. It’s also true that complaints can be used proactively, as a tool to help us improve in areas where we are not living up to our standards. As mayor I will work with the city departments, community stakeholders, and the council to establish expectations and measure how close we get to meeting them. That will allow us to evaluate whether our allocated resources are lining up with our goals, and to make changes accordingly. I intend to work with the Borough to seek efficiencies in service delivery and to build on the city’s cooperation with entities including the Downtown Association. It’s essential that we sustain important programs like the Emergency Service Patrol, for example. Continuing to monitor what we hear from the community – whether complaints or praise – will be an important part of the process.
Mayor Jim Matherly: Service goals that are focused on who complains the most or the loudest are not goals I am interested in trying to meet. Instead, a realistic annual evaluation of the resources at hand and how those resources will be distributed evenly throughout the city is how we will manage City resources. Complaints will always be reviewed, and when those complaints identify a weakness that we can strengthen, then we will do just that. Under my leadership we have instituted quarterly meetings with the Downtown Association so that we can hear first-hand what the Association sees as the most important issues. We are currently trying to develop snow removal standards that we will strive to meet if the resources to meet those standards are appropriated.
2. Now that the city owns the Polaris building, will you support the city making the necessary financial contributions along the way to demolish the building, such as a grant-required financial match?
Kathryn Dodge: I support putting resources toward addressing the hazard posed by the Polaris building and making room for positive new growth in our downtown core. This must be done within the framework of maintaining the essential city services on which businesses and community members rely. We’ll have to be innovative and aggressive in seeking out sources of funding for the Polaris project that best fit the needs of the city during this financially challenging time.
Mayor Jim Matherly: No. The citizens of Fairbanks can’t subsidize the activity or activities that are eventually built on the Polaris site. The development must be self-supporting and not require taxpayer subsidies. That said, the City will continue to actively participate on the Polaris Group and will support seeking grants to improve this site.