The Bethel City Council couldn't agree on how to pay for lights in Pinky's Park in their last council meeting on Aug. 13, 2019. They voted against two different plans to fund the project.
In one proposal, the city would pay for the lights. In the other, ONC offered to use Tribal Transportation Funds to pay for part of the project.
Council member Leif Albertson opposed the city spending over $150,000 on the lights.
“We could spend that on anything,” Albertson said. “We could spend that on repairing pipes in Housing, we could spend that on roads, we could spend that on gravel.”
Albertson said that the lighting project should be weighed against other capital expense projects in the normal budgeting process, but council member Perry Barr said that these lights warranted special attention, pointing to a murder that happened on Pinky’s Park boardwalk a few years ago.
“That could have been deterred by bright lighting in that whole area,” Barr said.
Vice-Mayor Raymond "Thor" Williams said that $156,000 was a small price to pay to improve public safety.
“We spent what, $430,000 to pave the front of this building? And we didn’t bat an eye and didn’t say a word. And that wasn’t for health and safety. That was for cosmetic reasons,” Williams said.
With two members absent, the city-funded lighting project didn't get the required four votes and failed to pass. But there was another item on the agenda. ONC had told the city that it had enough Tribal Transportation Funds to contribute $90,000 for a portion of the boardwalk lights.
“ONC has graciously worked to get money to the city. We have free money,” Albertson said.
But several council members who had voted for the city-funded lighting voted against the ONC-funded part. Vice-Mayor Williams said that it should be all or nothing.
“We coulda had a whole project done tonight, public safety thought about and done,” Williams lamented. “But sometimes we think it’s better to be on the opposite side of public safety.”
The ONC-funded idea for partially lighting Pinky's Park was not passed by council either.