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M. Scott Moon
Landscaping is complete around the Soldotna Community Memorial Park’s columbarium.

'Preserving our history here at home'

Posted: September 28, 2011 - 8:00am  |  Updated: September 28, 2011 - 8:56am

The Soldotna Community Memorial Park project has taught Peter Micciche that it is OK for community members to disagree. The Soldotna mayor said the end result of the project is better after having input from both sides.

"What we did was essentially lock people who had opposing views of this park in to a room," Micciche said. "I think they walked in as folks that disagreed about an issue, and I think they walked out as friends.

"The end result is the design of this park that has made everyone on both sides happy."

The park will open on Oct. 9 with a dedication ceremony.

Micciche said it was important for the park to focus on remembrance of loved ones.

"You'll see in the theme of the designs - it's all lightly designed," he said. "Remembering those that have passed is a celebration of their life, and you're going to see that throughout the park."

The park is located on West Redoubt Avenue in the middle of a neighborhood, which was a topic of concern of the residents.

Liz Cristiano lives nearby, and said that compromise was very important for both sides.

"Not everyone can be happy, but you can all work together and come up with something nice," Cristiano said.

Trees act as a buffer between the park and the neighborhood, giving not only the houses privacy, but also those who will be visiting the park. The park has a total of 17 acres, but not all of that is being used at this time.

"We're using about three or four acres right now," Micciche said. "We have a plan for the next several hundred years - this is Soldotna's memorial park. It's expandable out into the trees as it grows into the future."

Micciche said one of the highlights of the park is the memorial wall, which will honor residents who were lost before the park was created.

"The wall is to account for all those years for the pioneers that created Soldotna were forced to be interred elsewhere," he said. "The memorial wall provides an opportunity to bring our history back home to Soldotna,"

The Memorial Wall structure is wavy, much like the curves of the Kenai River. Which is fitting, because the wall marks the path to the river overlook.

"This was very important to people that chose this location," Micciche said. "As well as those of us that designed the memorial park - there would be that quiet place where you can overlook the river and reflect on those lost."

The Kenai River flows through the community, not just physically, but figuratively.

"The river is part of all of us," Micciche said. "I think it's very important that we captured it here."

Overall, Micciche believes the park was the definition of a complete community effort.

"I am very excited the way the community has come together," he said. "And I have not a negative feeling toward the process.

"I learned very much of the value of when people disagree, the ultimate outcome is a better result and a better product."

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justamom
12
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justamom 09/28/11 - 01:31 pm
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Wasted land

What a waste of premium real estate.

jimbob
74
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jimbob 09/29/11 - 05:01 pm
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Tragic waste

"We have a plan for the next several hundred years," says Micciche. -- I suspect that a 100 years from now people will look at the decision to place a cemetery in the middle of a community on prime real estate as a selfish, ill conceived fools errand. In fact I will give Micciche and the cemetery gang credit for that now. This land should have been preserved for the future, for instance more schools or a park or just as a piece of undeveloped land in a natural condition which has made the peninsula such a special place to live. Micciche now wants to take credit for the debacle, which he previously was strongly against. Give him the credit, but dont vote to put him back in office. How much money is tied up in the cemetery? Probably close to a million bucks by the time it is finished, with no public knowledge of what maintenance will cost the taxpayers of a small town with about 4000 residents.

Norseman
3593
Points
Norseman 09/29/11 - 05:32 pm
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R.I.P.

There was always a small segment of the population that was completey against the cemetary. They were a small minority but very vocal. For years we had many committees look into creating a cemetary and each and every single time, the committees picked this exact location. Several times outside unbiased professional planning agencies picked this same exact location. The Soldotna planning and zoning committee was 100% for this location. The voters of Soldotna OVERWHELMINGLY supported this location by a citywide vote that was over 90% for this location.

The mayor and a few on the council tried to cram the gravel pit out by the airport down the voters throats. Some on the council went completly against the will of the people and were effectively ousted at the next election.

Mayor micchie saw the handwriting on the wall and finally sobered up to the idea of doing what was the will of the people.

Now we have a decent cemetary to bury and remember our loved ones. Most of those who are oppossed to this cemetary have zero plans of ever being buried here, probably even in this state. The rest of us have won this battle for having a wonderful cemetary that our families and future relatives will be forever be able to visit and pay their respects.

Some of the greatest and strongest communties are those that recogize the need to have a cemetary worthy of a final resting place. 100 years from now that generation will be forever gratefull to the forward thinking of this generation.

Great job fellow citizens!

justamom
12
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justamom 09/30/11 - 12:43 pm
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Small Segment? HA!

Ok Norseman, the small segment you speak about was 90% of the neighborhood residents, who not only once, but TWICE, signed a petition saying they didn't want this cemetary "crammed" down their throats and placed in their neighborhood. And the voters you talk about were the task forces and a few others who said they would be visiting graves everyday. No they won't! How often do people go to a cemetary? Maybe once or twice a year, and even less as time passes by. This is such a waste of prime real estate. The city could have made a lot more money if they would have sold it outright. I would have paid three times as much! But they wouldn't sell it to me. By the way, I'm sure you've seen many cemetaries right in the middle of neighborhoods time and again. Do a little research...the cemetary is always there first and the residents CHOSE to live next to it. The Redoubt neighbors weren't given this choice, even after telling the city for over ten years that they didn't want to live by a graveyard. So get your facts straight before putting your comments in writing.

Norseman
3593
Points
Norseman 09/30/11 - 03:54 pm
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0
give it a rest

You don't like the facts? So make up some of your own to suit you.
In this great country, the MAJORITY rule when it comes to the will of the people. The vote went out to ALL of the elgible voters of Soldotna and that is where the %90 majority came in. We all know that a few of the residents in that area where against the cemetary, but the vote carried and the will of the people was carried out. Some of the resdients in that area were all for it so don't say all the residents were against it.
It is over, the cemetary is in, soon we can buy plots and begin to bury our loved one's.
Your rant about money shows how shallow your thinking is. What is important is a special sacred place to honor our dead. Not in a gravel pit by an airstrip. Not by the borough landfill, but in a scenic, peacefull setting just like what we have.
Most everyone realizes that the mouths that howled the most against this are the ones never planning on being interred here. They are the one's who will be buried out of state.

Regardless, we have a cemetary to be proud of now and all within a few years, will agree that the right choice was made.

If you are still concerned over money, stats prove that real estate near a beautiful cemetary goes up. Sell if you need to, someone will gladly buy a house in that area.

jimbob
74
Points
jimbob 10/02/11 - 09:40 am
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Nail on the Head

Posters are entitled to their own opinions but not their own facts. One poster on this site has shown how by virtue of anonimity, he/she can spout off outrageous "facts". Quote your source of your facts, pal. Give the source here so we can all check it out. What "stats" are you using? The City of Soldotna "stats"?? I think you are delusional. Fact is the graveyard is being built. Obviously money is being diverted from other funds to do it. Apparently they are out of money as you can see the road is not paved and very little has been done for the stated amount of money. There will be well over a million bucks tied up in land that was free from the borough. I say the decision has been made, right or wrong. Now charge the customers enough money to pay for the graveyard and the maintenance, do not place the burden on us taxpayers. I am sure this sticks in the craw of one poster on this site, as you can tell by their attitude they think they are entitled to a virtually free plot courtesy of everyone else.

justamom
12
Points
justamom 10/03/11 - 10:45 am
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Thanks jimbob!

I don't understand why someone would want to be buried amongst an entire neighborhood who don't want them there. Lots of dogs in that area.

jtpate
8
Points
jtpate 10/03/11 - 10:46 am
0
0
Thanks!

Thanks so much for all who have been involved with this park! They have done a fantastic job. Big thanks out to our Mayor who did a great job getting people together to work out their differences. As far as the folks on here complaining, I'm going to have to assume this is the type of people you are. The level of crass and inappropriate only shows the immaturity of the people talking. Sorry if that comes off superior, but really, you are just setting yourselves up for it. Have you been out to the park? It is beautiful! People should not be complaining. Why is a memorial park considered a waste of land? That seems strange to me. Dying is a part of living. Shall I mention, it is our history?! Without our ancestors we would not be here. So show a little respect - ok folks? Thanks again to everyone, (for and against this) for coming together in the end and showing your true class. - Terri Pate

jimbob
74
Points
jimbob 10/03/11 - 09:50 pm
0
0
eye of the beholder

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I find beauty in a natural woodland or perhaps a beautiful park with familys and children laughing and playing. Quite a contrast to someone who considers a graveyard beautiful. On the otherhand we need graveyards for our ancestors and they should be respectful and dignified places. The problem is when living people are so full of themselves that they want to place a graveyard in the center of a living vibrant community of living people. Every poster on this site will be dead and forgotten at some time. A hundred years from now the arrogant fools who used this valuable piece of land for disposal of the dead rather than for use of the living will be noted for their poor decisions. To accuse those who disagree with your wrong headed selfish and misplaced self importance of being disrespectful or immature??? is out of line. What disrespect for the dead is shown by disagreeing with you about what the best use of land is? You will have your way the graveyard is being built but that doesnt mean that it is a good decision or that everyone has to like it or that I have to like paying for it. I think the plots should be priced in a way that will pay for the development an maintenance of it. I suspect that that would amount to several thousand dollars per plot, but no the taxpayers will pick up the tab for the most part.

msjinxie
127
Points
msjinxie 10/04/11 - 08:28 am
0
0
Wow people

After reading all of these posts, I realized something about the people complaining. Your world must be very very small to raise such a hoopla over a cemetary/park! Sorry, but right at this very moment our country is in serious trouble. Folks have lost their homes, families, or worse their lives because of the deterorating American Dream. Maybe instead of being part of the problem, by complaining on a paper blog....DO something about it! Make a change! Nothing is accomplished by sitting at your computer. Think BIG picture and put it into perspective ....its really a very small issue. Not to mention, its already been made and the area is completed. Game over. Find a real cause to get up in arms about. Just saying.

Norseman
3593
Points
Norseman 10/04/11 - 08:32 am
0
0
ignorant

jimbob, apparently you are ignorant about cemetaries. As people purchase plots and begin to be interred there, perpetual memorial funds are typically donated to fund the costs for the cemetaries. Many families ask that donations be made in honor of their loved ones to this type of fund. this cemetary will be no exception, just wait and see. So you can sleep well knowing that the cemetary will pay it's on way.

Fortunately we have more future minded people in our community then short sighted people such as yourself. History has proven that when a community has a special and sacred place to bury their dead, they create a bond within the community. Hopefully as times passes, the naysayers will see the true beauty in the city using this very special place for all of us to honor and respect our dead.

jimbob
74
Points
jimbob 10/05/11 - 09:39 pm
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0
Blather and more Blather

Obviously at least one poster on this site has only about two cells left in its brain. Name calling and stating opinions as if they are facts set in stone is intellectully dishonest. In order for that behavior to bother someone though that person would have to have a concience. With only two functioning brain cells that is unlikely. ---- Back on point, there are people who favor the location of the graveyard, those that dont care, and those who oppose the location. My opinion is not going to change. Over time as our fine community grows and develops it will be shown that the use of the Redoubt property for dead people was a mistake and that the land could have been used for any number of things for living people. So you amature historians who I like to call, wrong, need to relax, pick out your spot. We will all get there in time. And for those who advise not to waste time posting and using the computer, TAKE your own advice, stay off these sites and go out and joust windmills in the real world. Some of us dont want your advice.

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