Chain link fencing outlines the site of the former Jesse Lee Home on Sunday, April 3, 2022, in Seward, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Chain link fencing outlines the internet site of the previous Jesse Lee Dwelling on Sunday, April 3, 2022, in Seward, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Operate on a memorial park at the web page of the former Jesse Lee House for Children in Seward is anticipated to start out in summertime 2023 though the metropolis operates to dispose of contaminated product detected at the site previous yr.

The Jesse Lee Property, also recognised as the Seward Orphanage, was demolished in 2020 right after a tense back-and-forth concerning the Town of Seward and group users who opposed the shift. The orphanage is well recognised as the place where Benny Benson, a seventh quality university student, created Alaska’s territorial flag in 1927.

Constructed among 1925 and 1926, the Jesse Lee Household integrated two dorms, the Jewel Guard Corridor and Goode Hall, as effectively as the Balto Developing, which was extra in between the dorms in 1937 to give a eating house and kitchen. Goode Corridor was demolished immediately after struggling from severe problems in the 1964 earthquake.

Which is in accordance to an environmental operate approach organized for Kasteler Consulting, Inc., on behalf of Coldfoot Environmental Companies Inc., which the Clarion obtained from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation through a documents ask for. Coldfoot was contracted by the Town of Seward to demolish web-site building and utility infrastructure.

Right until 1964, the orphanage was operated by the United Methodist Church as a area for displaced youngsters, the report mentioned. The web page altered arms a number of times over the subsequent 35 yrs right until the Metropolis of Seward entered into an arrangement with the Pals of the Jesse Lee Home in 2000 to restore the properties.

Soil samples taken from the web page just after the constructions were demolished contained mercury and arsenic at degrees higher than are permitted by the Alaska Division of Environmental Conservation, the report claimed.

Other contaminated elements found at the website consist of two 2,000-gallon over floor storage tanks, situated in the Balto Creating, which contained hundreds of gallons of gas oil. Residual tar buildup was also located in multiple locations throughout each the Balto and Jewel properties.

All but the concrete foundations of the Jewel and Balto structures were demolished in spring 2021, a number of months right after KCI done a website visit in October 2020 at the ask for of Coldfoot. The benefits of that inspection are laid out in the KCI report and detail numerous sites of contamination that need to be addressed in advance of the community’s eyesight of a memorial park can be understood.

Beneath the Balto Building’s basement flooring, for instance, KCI identified the remains of a fully distinct concrete construction, which they believe the Balto Creating was developed on best of, according to the report. Soil samples taken from underneath that other structure were uncovered to comprise mercury and arsenic at ranges better than are permitted by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation.

In all, KCI’s setting function strategy estimates that between 30 and 50 cubic yards of product demands to be taken out from the web-site in order for any operate to start. Any soil taken off from the site will be performed in a way that stops contaminated soil from becoming mixed with uncontaminated soil: Contaminated soil will be loaded into 20-foot, open-leading shipping containers for off-web site transportation and disposal, the report mentioned.

Mainly because mercury was detected at increased ranges than the department of conservation’s cleanup amount, that soil are not able to be thermally handled in Alaska, the report reported. In its place, it will be moved to a landfill in Arlington, Oregon, that is permitted to deal with, keep and dispose of hazardous squander in accordance with the Code of Federal Restrictions.

Seward Group Advancement Director Jason Bickling informed customers of the Seward Town Council all through a particular meeting on March 14 that the earliest do the job on a park could be commenced in summertime 2023, as summertime 2022 will be devoted to decontamination endeavours.

Seward Town Supervisor Janette Bower reported Wednesday that when the timeline will be largely dependent on the office of conservation, the city designs to agreement out the excavation perform with a preliminary value estimate of all around $100,000.

Bickling also mentioned that a playground composition supposed for the internet site is now on its way to Alaska. He explained playground devices, which was procured in June 2021 with grant resources, “took a tiny while” to monitor down, but was observed in a container ship off of the coastline of Los Angeles, “where it had been sitting for a number of months.”

“It is now unusually on the street,” Bickling said final month.

A group backyard garden, grassy spots and a memorial plaque were being all determined as long term web site amenities by local community customers in a November 2020 community survey by which far more than 300 folks provided feedback. Just one attendee at the council’s March 14 conference mentioned the metropolis really should function with the Soldotna Historic Preservation Commission to make certain the site’s historical past is shown.

Bower claimed Wednesday that the city is holding a unique Seward Metropolis Council assembly on Monday, April 25 to talk about the residence and to give a standing update to council users.

Seward Town Council meetings can be streamed are living on the city’s YouTube channel. Extra info about the Jesse Lee Dwelling web-site can be located on the city’s web-site at

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at [email protected].