Sitka Cancer Survivors Society to host celebration walk July 14 at Path of Hope park

The Sitka Cancer Survivors Society is planning a celebration event from 1-3 p.m. on Sunday, July 14, in honor of cancer survivors and their families.

The society invites all those interested in joining them in walking through the “Path of Hope” park, celebrating with cancer survivors, their families and friends.

Come meet the board members to find out what we are all about, how we got started, and what we do to help support all those dealing with cancer. Refreshments will be served by the Sitka Emblem Club  No. 142. Come and enjoy the beautiful park, and celebrate with fellow cancer survivors and their families.

The Path of Hope Inspirational Park is located on Moller Drive, behind Sitka Community Hospital and behind the running track at Moller Field.

The Sitka Cancer Survivors Society provides support for Sitka residents undergoing cancer treatment, and survivors of cancer. Any questions, please contact Carolyn Fredrickson at 623-7028.

• 2013 SCSS Path of Hope Brochure

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City and Borough of Sitka Public Works Department to share Lincoln Street project plans at May 22 open house

Option 4A (no u-turn in front of St. Michael’s Cathedral).

Option 2B (keeps u-turn option in front of cathedral).

The City and Borough of Sitka Public Works Department has scheduled an open house to discuss construction plans for an upcoming Lincoln Street paving project, from 4-6 p.m. on Wednesday, May 22, in the Chum Room at Harrigan Centennial Hall.

The project will re-pave Lincoln from City Hall to the traffic light at Lake Street and Harbor Drive. As required by federal law, CBS will reconstruct all crosswalk ramps within the project limits so that they comply with Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) standards. This will result in re-shaped intersections and modified crosswalks. Conceptual drawings will be posted on the CBS project website (https://www.cityofsitka.com/government/departments/publicworks/projects.html) as they become available.

There are two main options around St. Michael’s Russian Orthodox Cathedral — one (Option 4A) will eliminate the u-turn in front of the cathedral, where there have been car-pedestrian collisions in recent years, and the other (Option 2B) will continue to allow the u-turn in front of the cathedral (see posted drawings).

“The AutoTURN lines on the non-U-Turn option show how a hearse or similar vehicle can access the pedestrian area in front of the cathedral when needed,” city engineer David Longtin wrote in an email. “I highlighted the relative advantages and disadvantages in red.”

This diagram shows how the sidewalks in front of First National Bank of Alaska and the ADA parking will be modified.

The project will also replace corroding storm drain pipes, construct a water main from Lincoln Street to Seward Street via Cathedral Way and provide safety improvements and additional pedestrian space in front of St. Michael’s Cathedral.

The only other traffic changes will be to American and Barracks streets, which will become one-way streets (American up the hill to the north, Barracks down the hill from the south). Longtin said city officials have decided those two streets are too narrow for two-way traffic.

Construction is planned between the last cruise ship of this season (early October) and the first cruise ship of next season (late April). CBS is committed to minimizing impacts to business owners, vehicle traffic and pedestrians while the work is under way.

Please contact CBS Senior Engineer Dave Longtin at 747-1883 or david.longtin@cityofsitka.org with questions about the project.

• Letter from Doug Osborne about his thoughts on the Lincoln Street upgrade

Alaska Walk and Bike Conference to highlight ways to make Alaska more walk and bike friendly

The inaugural Alaska Walk and Bike Conference takes place June 4-8 in Sitka — Alaska’s only community to hold national Walk Friendly Communities and Bicycle Friendly Community designations.

The conference opens with two days of Smart Cycling training from the League of American Bicyclists, followed by two days of walking and biking presentations. The fifth day includes an optional bike ride, an optional hike with harbor cruise, and a Walk/Bike Alaska organizational meeting. The conference costs $40 for the full conference, or $25 for each two-day segment. People can register at http://akwalkbikeconference.eventsmart.com. The Aspen Suites Hotel, where much of the conference will take place, has a block of rooms reserved for the conference, but will release them to the general public on May 3, so book now.

“Having this conference in Sitka is a great opportunity and I’m particularly excited about the team of speakers we have lined up,” said Doug Osborne, Sitka Community Hospital director of health promotion and one of the conference organizers. “The conference is designed so that people can participate ways that fit their interests and schedule. Some will want to complete the Smart Cycling course on Tuesday and Wednesday, others will enjoy doing the whole four-day conference while many will go for an individual session, a lunch and learn, a late afternoon group ride/walk or one of the evening special events. It’s going to be a fun week with a lot of learning, good discussion, and physical activity along the way.”

“The State of Alaska Physical Activity and Nutrition Program is excited to support the 2019 Walk Bike Conference in Sitka occurring at the same time as the Sitka Summer Music Festival,” said Dawn Groth, who works for the Alaska Division of Public Health’s Chronic Disease and Health Promotion program and is another conference organizer. “Sitka’s recognition as both a walk and bicycle friendly city make Sitka the perfect community to host a walk-bike conference. Building active and walkable communities can help support local economies, reduce the risk of many chronic diseases, and encourage safe walking and biking for all ages. Sitka is an example of a community Sitka is an example of a community working to create activity friendly routes to everyday destinations to encourage active people and a healthy nation.”

Elle Steele of Sacramento, Calif., shown here with her two sons (now ages 8 and 10), will lead the Smart Cycling training.

Sitka was honored with a Bronze level Walk Friendly Community designation in 2013 and 2017, and earned a Silver level Bicycle Friendly Community designation in 2016 (with Bronze level designations in 2008 and 2012). Both designations came out of Sitka Health Summit projects, which also led to the creation of Walk Sitka and the Sitka Cycling Club groups to promote walking and biking in Sitka.

The Smart Cycling training part of the Alaska Walk and Bike Conference is designed to help cyclists feel more comfortable and safer riding in traffic. It also is good for educators (especially physical education teachers), youth leaders, and others who might be leading group bike rides with younger students.

The second two-day segment focuses on the Five E’s (Education, Encouragement, Engineering, Enforcement, Evaluation) that are the main components in the Walk Friendly Communities and Bicycle Friendly Community applications. In addition, there will be presentations on the health benefits of active transportation, accommodations needed for the elderly and disabled, how to start a bike school, and how to conduct a walk audit.

Elle Steele of Sacramento, Calif., who is a League Certified Instructor from the League of American Bicyclists and will lead the Smart Cycling training, will be one of the keynote speakers. She is board president of Trips For Kids Sacramento, a nonprofit that provides bike adventures for underserved youth, and also owns Whimsical Cycle, which promotes riding bikes for everyday transportation.

Lee Hart of Valdez and the Anchorage-based Confluence coalition promoting the outdoor recreation economic sector in Alaska will be a keynote speaker.

Another keynote speaker is Lee Hart of Valdez, who founded an Anchorage-based coalition called Confluence to promote the outdoor recreation economic sector in Alaska. She also founded the Valdez Adventure Alliance which introduced fat-biking and big mountain downhill fat-biking to new riders. Hart spoke about the benefits of outdoor recreation in Sitka in February 2019.

Other speakers include Doug Osborne, Charles Bingham, Holly Marban, Lynne Brandon and Rick Petersen of Sitka; Dawn Groth, Pierce Schwalb, Charlie Lowell and Sarana Schell of Anchorage; and others.

A tentative agenda is posted below. For more information, contact Doug Osborne at (907) 747-0373 or akwalkbikeconference@gmail.com.

• Tentative agenda for 2019 Alaska Walk and Bike Conference in Sitka (last updated May 30, 2019)

City of Sitka to host meeting Wednesday, April 3, about Katlian Street improvements

The City and Borough of Sitka Department of Public Works will host a meeting at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, April 3, at Harrigan Centennial Hall to discuss improvements to Katlian Street in 2019.

The project will take place between the Katlian Street intersection of Halibut Point Road and approximately 508 Katlian Street, near Petro Marine and the Marine Service Center.

Improvements will include the replacement or lining of deteriorated storm drain pipes, grinding and overlay of existing pavement, upgrading of ADA-compliant (American Disability Act) ramps, and replacement of limited sidewalk. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the construction project in general and the construction schedule to limit disruption along Katlian Street.

Katlian Street is a section of town that has been targeted for walkability upgrades in the recent past, but many of the problem areas are not part of this construction project. These include the ramps to nowhere (driveway cuts that don’t go to improved properties), narrow sidewalks, poor lighting, water drainage issues that cause icy sidewalks in the winter, and the house at 420 Katlian Street that keeps sliding into the sidewalk.

For more information about the project or to make comments, contact City of Sitka Senior Engineer Stephen Weatherman at 747-4042 or stephen.weatherman@cityofsitka.org.

Sitka to host inaugural Alaska Walk and Bike Conference on June 4-8

Are you looking for ways to make Alaska more walking and bicycling friendly? Sitka will host the inaugural Alaska Walk and Bike Conference on June 4-8.

While the agenda is still being finalized (a tentative agenda is posted below), there will be a two-day Smart Cycling class (from the League of American Bicyclists training program), and two days of work sessions about how to be a better bicycling and walking advocate. The last day includes a Saturday hike and bike ride, and maybe a harbor cruise.

Why is this conference in Sitka? Sitka is the only community in Alaska with both a Bicycle Friendly Community designation (Silver) and a Walk Friendly Communities designation (Bronze). This is a chance to see what works in Sitka, and some of the challenges it still faces in its efforts to become more walkable and bikeable.

Prices are low for this event — $25 for the Smart Cycling training on June 4-5, $25 for the Walk/Bike work sessions on June 6-7, or $40 for the whole conference. If we are able to secure the harbor cruise, there probably will be an extra fee for it. There also are special conference rates at the Aspen Hotel, which is downtown and within easy walking distance of most community facilities.

For more details, contact Doug Osborne at (907) 747-0373 or akwalkbikeconference@gmail.com.

• Tentative agenda for 2019 Alaska Walk and Bike Conference in Sitka

New healthy walking trail available on SEARHC campus

There’s a new walking trail on the Sitka campus of the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC).

“The SEARHC walking trail was created as a way to increase opportunities for physical activity for SEARHC employees, patients, and visitors,” SEARHC Health Educator III Holly Marban said.

The 0.4-mile-long trail is built on top of a gravel bed, so there is surer footing for walkers when the nearby sidewalks are icy. The trail’s construction was assisted by Troy’s Excavation.

Walkers can access the trail from near the parking lot for the SEARHC Community Health Services building on the lower part of the campus. You’ll find the entrance to the trail next to the 20mph sign on the road connecting the lower part of the campus to Mount Edgecumbe Hospital.

From there the trail takes walkers through the woods (note, part of the trail is next to the U.S. Coast Guard-Air Station Sitka housing complex, which is off limits to non-Coast Guard personnel). After wandering through the woods, the trail ends on the side of the SEARHC Patient Housing complex (the far side away from Mount Edgecumbe Hospital). The red line on the satellite map gives you a rough idea of where the trail goes.

At this point, the trail does not have an official name, Marban said.

New wayfinding signs find their way onto Sitka streets and alleys

The new wayfinding kiosk near the tour bus stop on the side of Harrigan Centennial Hall.

Kiosk looking toward Crescent HarborOver the last couple of weeks, Sitka residents and visitors have seen 41 new wayfinding signs pop up on Sitka streets, as well as a new information kiosk just outside Harrigan Centennial Hall. These are part of a lengthy project by Visit Sitka, the Greater Sitka Chamber of Commerce, and the City and Borough of Sitka to update the wayfinding signs in Sitka.

The new signs use estimated walking times instead of distances to show how far away key landmarks are (using about 10 minutes to represent a half-mile, or slightly less than a kilometer). The use of times instead of distances not only encourages walking, but it also is less confusing to foreign tourists used to the metric system. The designs also include Tlingít formline elements, to honor our local Alaska Native culture.

“The Sitka Wayfinding System was installed in September 2018 (and into October),” said Rachel Roy, executive director of the Greater Sitka Chamber of Commerce and Visit Sitka. “This comprehensive and unified directional sign system was customized for our community. Funded with the Commercial Passenger Excise Tax (CPET, or cruise tax) funds, the City of Sitka and a planning committee of tourism industry representatives worked with Great Destinations Strategies to develop a new brand identity for Sitka, and Axia Creative for the sign design and locations.”

A new wayfinding sign in front of Wells Fargo bank, at the corner of Lincoln and Maksoutoff streets, with an old wayfinding sign above.

The project cost just over $300,000 between the branding design and sign costs, Roy said. The branding project started in 2013, and the wayfinding project launched in 2015, with several delays. But the origins of the project can be found all the way back in 1996 in the Gateway tourism plan. The new wayfinding signs will replace the blue signs around town that were installed in 2015 and meant to only be temporary for a year or two.

“The Sitka Wayfinding System serves as a welcome and orientation for visitors, provides a unified image that reflects our community’s character and history, provides a sense of place, a ‘seamless’ experience and a guide to Sitka’s major attractions,” Roy said. “The signs offer visitors access to VisitSitka.org, Sitka’s official visitor website and encourages use of #visitsitka on social media. We are proud to see the signs being used by visitors throughout the community and this further development of our community’s visitor industry infrastructure.”

According to a map sent by City and Borough of Sitka project manager Kelli Cropper, there were 41 wayfinding signs and the one kiosk installed as part of this phase of the project. The majority of the wayfinding signs are on Lincoln Street, but there are a few off Sawmill Creek Road and one on Kaagwaantaan and Barracks streets, plus a few along the Sitka Sea Walk toward the Sitka National Historical Park.

A map showing the locations of the 41 wayfinding signs and new kiosk.

Cropper said there are options to purchase two more kiosks at later dates, with one going underneath the O’Connell Bridge by the lightering dock after the second phase of the Sitka Sea Walk is completed and the other possibly going up on Lincoln Street after that street is upgraded in the next year or two. At this time there are no wayfinding signs on Katlian Street, and any there would have to come during a future phase of the project.

A slideshow showing some of the new wayfinding signs and both sides of the kiosk is posted below.

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