Skagway, Alaska (KINY) The Skagway Assembly approved a memorandum of understanding with the White Pass Yukon route Railroad to extend their lease, which expires in 2023.
They removed a clause giving Skagway the right of first refusal should the railroad be sold. Railroad representative Tyler Rose says the company has been a good corporate partner, "The economic growth that we have been behind in this community over the years is undisputed."
Rose said that Skagway and the railroad would be better off with a partnership and cooperation rather than the alternative, "Dare I say demonization and demagoguery, and have a discussion. This community has done so well when they have worked together, cooperatively, as opposed to becoming fractious and threatening."
Resident Tim Borsee said Skagway could have better relations with their business partners, "The message that you are sending to the people in the Yukon and the tourism industry and everyone else is insane."
Voters turned down a lease extension with White Pass two years ago. Most of the debate was over possible contamination in the harbor and the amount of money Skagway would receive from the lease, $5 million over 15 years.
A key issue would be a new floating dock to accommodate larger cruise ship vessels that plan to visit Skagway in 2019.
The lease agreement must be approved by voters. The agreement now goes to staff and attorneys.