The Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly agreed Tuesday to spend about $89,000 on playground equipment for Triangle Park near the Totem Heritage Center.

The vote wasn’t unanimous, though. Assembly Member Glen Thompson argued that the cost was too high.

“I looked into this and Wally the Whale, which is a replica of a whale, is $20,000 of this bid,” he said. “I thought, ‘Wow, you know, we could probably do without Wally the Whale.’”

But, Public Works Director Alex Peura told the Assembly that the whale is central to the design, and the overall cost is quite a bit less than the initial quote. He says the playground equipment at the park is in dire need of replacing.

“There was a committee that identified that park several years ago to be replaced – the equipment – and this money has been budgeted for the last three years,” he said. 

Peura added that the price includes the cost of a certified installer to come up and put in the equipment.

Assembly Member Judith McQuerry says she drives past there and regularly sees families using the park. She says that if you spread the price of the equipment over the number of years it likely will last, the annual cost isn’t that bad.

The motion to buy the playground equipment passed 4-1 with Thompson voting no. Assembly Members John Harrington and Mike Painter were absent.

The Assembly voted unanimously Tuesday to set the borough’s general fund reserves at 25 percent of expenditures, a change from the recommended 30 percent.

Finance Director Cynna Gubatayao told the Assembly that the borough has had no formal reserves policy, but tried to keep the general fund reserves at $5 million. That’s more than 40 percent of expenditures.

Gubatayao says the standard recommended level of reserves is between 17 and 25 percent.

“But that’s a big drop from where we are now,” she said. “If we do 30 percent as a starting point, then each year, through the policy session, we can review that and decide whether or not it’s accurate.”

Assembly Member Stephen Bradford, though, moved to amend the level to 25 percent. That passed unanimously.

Also Tuesday, the Assembly talked at length about proposed easements and land sales.

A resolution that would have provided an easement on Stanley Road failed to pass.

A resolution allowing an easement for a driveway near Mile 18 North Tongass was amended and then passed unanimously.

A resolution to authorize the sale of about 6 acres of borough property at the 12800 block of North Tongass Highway was changed, directing borough staff to determine the property value, and then bring the item back to the Assembly.  

A resolution to authorize the sale of about 26 acres in the same general area was postponed, also to allow staff to determine a property value.