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Kenai dedicates new park to Daubenspecks

Posted: July 1, 2012 - 9:08pm

The city of Kenai held a dedication ceremony for the newest park in their Municipal Park system Saturday.

Mayor Pat Porter officially proclaimed the park Daubenspeck Family Park, in honor of Harold and Rita Daubenspeck. The park is located just off Marathon Road, behind Walmart.

Members of the Parks and Recreation department, the Parks and Recreation commission and the Rotary Club were present at the ceremony. Sen. Tom Wagoner was present as well.

Those attending the event enjoyed donuts and refreshments provided by the city. Children were invited to take a swing at the piñata and to paddle around the lake in kayaks.

Mayor Porter said, “To me this is really exciting.”

Harold Daubenspeck bought a small fish processing plant near the mouth of the Kenai in 1949.

Daubenspeck named the company the Kenai Salmon Packing Company, now Pacific Star Seafood Inc.

When they left the area in the 1980s, they deeded over some property and the royalties of a gas well to the city.

The money from the royalties was meant to be used for athletic purposes and activities within the city of Kenai. The donation of property and gas rights has contributed more than $2 million dollars to the city to support athletic programs.

“We have never named anything after them. Even though this property was not part of the original deed to the city, it is time for us to step up and name and thank that family for the contribution that they made,” said Porter.

Daubenspeck Family Park is the first aquatic related park that the city has operated. The lake is nearly an acre and a half and currently features two pavilions, bathrooms, and numerous picnic tables.

Parks and Recreation Director Bob Frates said the park gives people the ability to train their dogs and enjoy water activities such as kayaking and canoeing.

“In addition to that, we are going to have a mile long trail around the perimeter of the lake. We are also going to have grass and horseshoe pits next to the pavilions,” Frates said.

In the winter, the city maintains the lake to allow ice skating and hockey.

“It was a hit for us this past spring and we hope it continues to be a hit this coming winter.” Frates hopes the city can sponsor a pond hockey tournament this year.

Mary Mullen, a resident of Soldotna is very excited about the new park. Mullen worked for Daubenspeck at the cannery as a teenager.

“I think this will help people to keep healthy. It’s a great place to have a swim, walk a dog and to skate. It’s wonderful.”

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