Rick Baldwin spoke on behalf of the Kenai Economic Development Strategy Organization to address the state of the City of Kenai’s dipnet fishery in Wednesday’s City Council meeting.
The KEDS Organization was created in 2005, he said, to draft solutions to economic quality of life issues for citizens to rally behind.
Baldwin said his organization has been in a “kind of hibernation” since they have had no recent initiatives. “But we have been interested in the issue that is a fairly wide-spread public concern in the City, and that’s the issue of dipnetting,” he said.
The City’s quality of life has suffered due to the mess that is left on the beach after each dipnet season, he said, and it is solution the community must bring about, not just the council.
To accomplish this cleanup effort, there needs to be a paradigm shift in the dipnet fishery, he said.
“We would suggest it’s not an essential public service,” he said. “It’s more in the nature of a rock concert that the city is forced to put on every year, and at this point it’s an uncontrolled rock concert.”
When Baldwin was cut short in his statement at the end of his three minutes to speak, Mayor Pat Porter asked him to continue, and Council Members Ryan Marquis and Terry Bookey nodded their approval.
“If you’ve ever been to a rock concert, or a great, big football game, you know that no one is allowed to drive out on the infield and pitch their tent,” he said.
The town should address other areas of the community for beach clean up, not just the city’s children, he said, referring to ROC the Kenai.
Marquis and Porter quickly corrected him, telling him that the children have already played an instrumental role, that “they had roles and objectives and viciously went after them,” Porter said.
Baldwin said KEBS will be present at Fall work session addressing the fishery issues.
Dan Schwartz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.