The Soldotna City Council passed resolutions during the Wednesday meeting that will implement new regulations and fines at Centennial Park and install a new fish cleaning station at the campground.
The resolution regarding the parking and fishing regulations for Centennial Park will prohibit fishing from the area around the boat launch called the “lagoon,” which will make the boat launch area safer, city manager Larry Semmens said. The ordinance passed 6-0.
“When it’s busy, you’ve got people driving their boats in there at the same time that people are trying to fish,” Semmens told the council. “So this ordinance will prohibit fishing in that boat launch lagoon area. It’s a safety matter.”
Council member Dale Bagley said he frequents the lagoon fishing spot in the evenings over the summer, and it was quiet.
“There’s not too much traffic in the evening, and there’s not too much boat traffic in the evening,” Bagley said.
Council member Nels Anderson had a different experience than Bagley.
“Every time I’ve gone down there, I’ve had people stand on the boat launch and I hadn’t been able to get the boat in the water because of that,” Anderson said. “It’s been a problem and I’m worried they’ll keep fishing there and throw lines across you and stuff.”
Semmens said the ordinance would impose fines for those fishing in the lagoon area and in the disabled fishing area if anglers are not disabled, as well as fines for park users who fail to pay the parking fee.
“Right now, people can come in and use the park without paying the fee,” Semmens said. “We give them a $50 ticket you might say, but there’s really no way to enforce it if they don’t voluntarily pay.”
The ordinance will put the fine on the city’s bail schedule, which makes it like a traffic ticket, Semmens explained.
“So it’s much easier to collect and enforce and we feel it will result in better revenue collection at the park and better management.”
Mayor Peter Micciche said that safety is the number one concern for the park.
“The revenue picture is not as important to me as the safety of the park,” he told the council.
The other ordinance which passed unanimously Wednesday provided $32,000 for the construction of a fish cleaning station at Centennial Park. The station would be north of the lagoon and boat launch.
Soldotna Parks and Recreation director Andrew Carmichael said the cleaning station would alleviate the fish waste that builds up at the bend of the river.
“We looked at current, we looked at location, existing structures and looked for an area where we could find something and take up a complete chunk along the river,” Carmichael told the council. “Forty feet of stations will be there, have running water and electricity, we can bring water in from the well house and it’s non-treated so it doesn’t create an issue with the fish.”
Carmichael said the upside to the project is that the city has come in contact with a grant source from a U.S. Fish and Wildlife program similar to when the city built the in-house fish walk.
“Fifty percent of our cash outlay that’s not inkind, (meaning) the materials bought and such, will be a match by Fish and Wildlife,” he explained. “So once we get done with the finished product, we have about $12,000 worth of materials in inventory that we’ll get credit for.”
Carmichael said the best case scenario for the city would be that with the grant from Fish and Wildlife, in addition to having the tables donated by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the city would only be a $735 expansion of the budget. The worst case, Carmichael said, would be that the city would spend the money appropriated. Construction of the station is set to start in April.
“(The station would be) expanding on an existing landing that has a set of stairs going into a horrible fishing spot that nobody uses,” Carmichael said. “So the 50-foot elevated path leading up to this cleaning station is already in place — it just has to be adapted for ADA purposes.”
There would need to be about 60 feet of trail, but that is the only additional fill-type material the city will construct, Carmichael said. To make room for the station, Carmichael said two or three campsites will have to be taken out of service.
Also on the council’s agenda for the meeting was a resolution approving of the city of Soldotna 5-year Capital Plan. There was a council worksession about two weeks ago during which the council and city administrators went over the plan.
“This document is to assist with long-range financial planning and management at the city,” city engineer Kyle Kornelis said. “This doesn’t appropriate funds or dedicate the city in any manner — this is just used as a planning tool for potential planning projects.”
The council unanimously approved the resolution adopting the plan.
In other business:
- The council heard an update on the Soldotna Library Expansion project.
- The council postponed a decision on an ordinance that would amend the Soldotna Municipal Code relating to Airport Land Use and Leases by repealing a chapter of the code, and adopting a new chapter and modifying a chapter regarding Management and Disposal of Real Property until the May meeting.
The next Soldotna City Council meeting is scheduled for March 14 at 6:30 p.m.