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Absentee voting under way in Soldotna special election

Soldotna voters asked to ratify plan to move visitors center on May 1 ballot

Posted: April 16, 2012 - 11:04am

The voting process will starts today to decide the future of the Soldotna Visitors Center.

Absentee voting will start on Monday and the actual vote will take place May 1 to allow the city of Soldotna to purchase the property located at 44075 Sterling Highway for $2.1 million for the purpose of relocating the Soldotna Visitors Center. The city council approved the ordinance to purchase the property during their March 28 meeting, but it must be ratified by the voters since the price is $2.1 million. The property, which sits near the “Y” intersection of the Sterling and Kenai Spur Highways, is owned by David and Linda Hutchings, according to a city of Soldotna fact sheet.

“The vote will not obligate the city to purchase the property, it will permit the city to purchase the property,” Soldotna City Engineer Kyle Kornelis said during the March 28 city council meeting.

The proposed building for the move sits on a 3.12-acre site with approximately 17,500 square feet of space on the first floor. The appraised value of the property is $2.8 million, according to a July 18, 2011 appraisal by Black-Smith, Bethard and Carlson, LLC.

The current visitors center has 800 square feet of space, Soldotna Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Michelle Glaves said.

“We get about 45,000 people in here within a three-month period,” Glaves said. “We have one men’s bathroom and one women’s bathroom, so we rent port-a-potties in the summer time.”

During the March 28 meeting, Daniel Lynch told the council he did not think it was a good idea to move the visitors center to the left side of the road, he speculated about 95 percent of the visitors come from the north.

“The two lanes that hang a left and go down the (Kenai) Spur Highway, the little turning lane is less than 100-feet where turns into the center lane and the turn into the property,” Lynch told the council.

Glaves said that the main entrance and exit will be the ones on the right hand side of the building, closer to Don Jose’s, to give some extra room for vehicles going in and out.
If the voters approve the purchase of the property, the city will have until Sept. 15 to conduct due diligence to make sure there are no significant issues. The building will have to be brought up to Building Code Compliance, which means the building will have to meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements. The estimated cost of those renovations range from $360,000 to $570,000, with the chamber providing $250,000 of those costs, according to the city.

“We’ve made a pledge to the city that future things that happen, renovations and those things, we are going to be the ones that strive for grants, legislative funding and all those things,” Chamber of Commerce building committee chairman Jim Stogsdill said.

If the voters do not approve the purchase of the property, the ordinance will not be ratified which means the city is prohibited from purchasing the property.

As this is a Soldotna-only election, absentee voting and the vote on May 1 will take place at Soldotna City Hall.

Logan Tuttle can be reached at

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robert white
robert white 04/16/12 - 02:52 pm
Hutchings visitor center

Bend over people Dave is coming...

Watchman on the Wall
Watchman on the Wall 04/16/12 - 03:12 pm
As i said from the get go

As i said from the get go this smells like the Kenai river in Sept. Oct. and makes one wonder whasssssssssssss up.
I really do think that the following bible verse applies here as well as globally when govt. is involved & even private corporations.
Your rulers are rebels, And companions of theives;
Everyone loves a bribe, And chases after rewards.
They do not defend the orphan,
Nor does the widow's plea come before them. Isaiah 1:23

Not all are crooks, but it sure seems that it is getting worse daily with out any fear of being caught or punished being the norm now in both local, state and federal govt.

Jeremiah 6:17

akal 04/16/12 - 03:39 pm
oh oh

just think of the added cost for the city residents on a yearly basis. now that the economy is sinking taxes will go way up.great thinking! seems the competition between the twin cites is alive and growing.

leewaytooo 04/17/12 - 02:54 am
someone has a piece of

someone has a piece of property they cant sell, except
to the city, which takes it off the tax rolls.

win win

jimbob 04/18/12 - 11:02 am
We Can All Get Rich!

I am all for this transfer of wealth from the taxpayer to a local business, and at an inflated price too! This is an idea that I can get behind if (it includes me.) How about a provision in the Soldotna rules that all of us can sell our property to the City anytime we choose. All that would be required is to get an appraisal from an independent appraiser, take your deed to city hall and collect the big bucks. Assessed value would not be considered of course nor would any maintenance or improvements to make the property usable. This concept is great and no body loses! It is the kind of thing that Berny Madoff would be proud of. I will oppose this purchase of the Hutching property unless the golf course is included in the package. I am sure that a little town of 4000 people (many of which are children, retired, or not working) should easily afford to spend millions. It probably doesnt make sense to just knock down a few trees at the existing visitors center and add a little parking and a small addition for less than half a million. Oh yeah, can someone explain why us taxpayers should be providing housing for the chamber of commerce???? I am just saying.

Alaskngrl 04/19/12 - 09:02 am
Building Borough Assessment

This is the link to the KPB Assessment for that building.

Property in Alaska is required to be assessed (valued for tax purposes) at fair market value. An assessment should be about the same amount as what the owner believes the property would sell for in the open real estate market. (AS 29.45.110)

Looks to me like 1.4 Million is Fair Market value, not the asking price of 2.1 million..... Hutchings have never done anything for this community that have not benefited the Hutchings. The voters need to take a closer look at this or again we will be paying for another "bail out"

4FIVE4 04/22/12 - 07:39 pm
For a half million in

For a half million in renovations on top of the $2 Million for the purchase we could add some real nice bathrooms to the visitors center now. What a waste! PLEASE vote, and vote no on this, to save our city millions!!

Watchman on the Wall
Watchman on the Wall 04/30/12 - 09:07 am
MAYDAY, MAYDAY, Please vote

MAYDAY, MAYDAY, Please vote no on this issue as it is an attempt to sink our ship & pad some pockets.
I would ask this question of the city of Sloooowdotna. Do you really think people will get lost coming down the Seward highway when they get to Sloooowdotna with only FOUR main roads off the seward?
They have TWO roads to the left and TWO roads to the right to choose from in our massive city, whats so difficult about that? Surely your not suggesting that these Throngs of tourists are stupid and can't figure this out without the aid of a multi million dollar VC that will not have any eazier access than where it is now, are you?



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