Briefs from Svalbardposten for the week of Nov. 24, 2015


Major city center overhaul to include library, new offices
Longyearbyen’s main municipal building is scheduled to get a complete overhaul by next Christmas, with the information desk and city library moving to the ground floor just past a new entrance at the cafe in Kulturhuset, more and smaller government offices on the second floor of the building, and a new electrical system. Work is scheduled to begin in the spring, with the city estimating the project will cost between 14.8 million and 22.2 million kroner. “Getting started on a real library is only positive for the population,” said Helga Bårdsdatter Kristiansen, a Green Party member of the Longyearbyen Community Council. “When you’re first starting, you might as well do the rest of the building immediately. It must invariably be done later.”

Tourist planning to walk to Pyramiden gets scolding   
A tourist who said he was going to walk from Longyearbyen to Pyramiden without a weapon, proper shoes or adequate clothing resulted in a helicopter search and stern lecture from The Governor of Svalbard. “We received several phone calls from people,” said Police Chief Lt. Irene Sætermoen. The Russian settlement is about 50 kilometers from Longyearbyen as the crow flies, but is a much longer trip by foot and requires multiple glacier crossings. The helicopter search was unsuccessful because “eventually he came down from Mine 7,” Sætermoen said. “He had been given so many warnings from others that he decided for a hike instead.” The English tourist was brought to a lodge, where he received his harsh scolding.

Spitsbergen Travel to offer tourism fishing next year
Spitsbergen Travel is planning to offer fishing trips for tourists beginning next fall. “Finally we are getting more than us locals enjoying the fantastic fishing up here,” said  Hilde Fålun Strøm, the tourism company’s product manager. But a change in the law will be needed for visitors wanting to bring their catch to the mainland rather than eating it in Svalbard. Cod fishing in Isfjorden has been exceptional lately due to warming waters.