The island community of Kodiak recognizes that "sustainability" is a survival skill as well as a long-term development plan. The goal was to pair the great fisheries resources of the North Pacific and Bering Sea to renewable energy sources. Many years ago, Kodiak established a goal to increase renewable wind and hydro resources to meet 95% of the community’s electrical needs by 2020 and nine years ahead of schedule, we're almost there.
Though they have only been operating for a year and a half, our three 1.5 megawatt wind turbines on Pillar Mountain today are saving 900,000 gallons of diesel fuel.We are proud that the wind turbines and power from Terror Lake hydro-electric dam are responsible for producing more than 93% of the community's power with that percentage climbing.
The benefits of this important "Salmon Wind Water" energy project are now available to wild seafood consumers. Sustainably managed salmon is processed in Kodiak almost entirely with renewable energy from Pillar Mountain and Terror Lake. Local salmon processors are proud to be part of an electricity grid that is embracing clean energy and moving away from reliance on fossil fuel-based diesel. Kodiak's innovative use of our wind and water resources has truly redefined Sustainable Seafood.
In January 2013, the Kodiak Chamber of Commerce launched an online opinion survey to the community of Kodiak. Over 300 individual email invitations were sent out and 39 community members participated in the survey. A survey link was also posted on Facebook – Friends of Kodiak and Kodiak LEAD, we received 148 individual responses through the Facebook link. With 187 total participants in the survey we had an estimated 90% confidence level with an error rate of ±6%. The survey results indicated a good cross-section of the Kodiak population. Average longevity in Kodiak was 20.33 years and respondents with 5 or less years in Kodiak amounted to almost 19%, 26+ years was 36% of the participants. 65% of survey responses came from Kodiak home owners, which is close to the U.S. Census Bureau’s statistic of 54% owner-occupied housing units in Kodiak Island Borough. Full-time employees and self-employed respondents accounted for 67% and 21% respectively. Industries represented were from Private Business – 35%, Government – 20%, Non-profit – 11% and a good variety of other industries including fishing, education, health care and native organizations. The majority of respondents to the survey owned or managed a business in Kodiak. From the written answers, one could see that the survey brought out individuals from every corner of our island.
Reading through the results, written responses and other comments, you see that the people of Kodiak really enjoy this island. They love the scenery and natural beauty of our environment. Outdoor activities and small town feel rank high for most respondents. However, respondents were quick to point out that it is expensive to live here, citing cost of fuel, housing, food and transportation as their highest challenges. Housing availability and high cost of living ranked as their top two things they wanted to change about Kodiak. Respondents to the survey said they wanted to preserve Kodiak’s small town feel, natural beauty, sense of community, and outdoor recreation. When asked where people purchase most of their goods or services, the survey indicates that the majority purchase most items or services on the island except clothes, automobiles and electronics. Respondents indicated that they would like to keep more big box and chain stores out of Kodiak, but were open to more business options and competition. Kodiak reflects having a foot in the past while looking forward to the future by citing social media as their top pick in best ways to address community concerns, followed closely by newspaper, radio and town hall meetings.
When addressing housing concerns around Kodiak, the majority of people taking the survey indicated that they agree or somewhat agree that the Borough should open more land, we need more incentives for developers, more senior housing, building revitalization, more Coast Guard housing, more low cost housing, more starter homes and multi-family housing units. The majority believe that the housing shortage is not temporary and that we should develop more raw land. Written responses indicate that high costs associated with building, along with the availability of land, are the leading challenges for housing development in Kodiak. When asked if we should create a planned housing development to address the greatest housing need in our community, 66% agreed or somewhat agreed with the statement. Survey indicated that 45% of respondents feel that any available areas should be allowed for housing development, compared to no development or did not answer at 6%. When asked what we should build, respondents listed single family starter homes – 37%, followed by Multi-family/Condos – 22% and Zero-lot/Town-house units – 18% as their top three.
Compiling this survey has provided a sense that the people of Kodiak would like some relief to the housing shortage and the high cost of living on the island. Kodiak would love to have more starter homes, apartments and townhouses for lower income families, but not at the expense of clear-cutting large parcels of raw land. The survey responses indicate that, responsible development of housing targeted towards the entry level work force would satisfy some of the current demand in the market. Further indications support spending more money locally, supporting small local businesses, but some of those options are not available on the island. I did not get the impression that the community was faulting any particular group or body of government, but wanted steady and responsible growth and development in our community to meet our needs. I got the sense that revitalizing residential areas and commercial properties along with cleaning up our community is a priority. Reinvesting some of what we have into the future generation, keeping them here on this great island we know as Kodiak.
Joe Bailor – Economic Development Specialist
Kodiak Chamber of Commerce