Need more time to critique comprehensive plan, Molloy says

At Wednesday’s Kenai City Council meeting, Council Member Bob Molloy requested more time for people to comment on the city’s Comprehensive Plan.

“It’s a really important document,” he said, “and 14 days including Saturdays and Sundays after it’s been presented and explained to the public is too short a time period.”

The city presented the plan at an open house Oct. 5 and set a two week public comment period.

Molloy said several people have told him two weeks is not enough, and Kenai resident Mark Scharg, 58, was one of them.

“We need more time,” he said at the council meeting. “It would give more people time and give the city more time to work on it.”

Molloy proposed the city extend its public comment period to Nov. 18, providing Kenai residents 30 more days to prepare their critiques.

Mayor Pat Porter, however, said she wants to see the comments from the two week period.

“There was plenty of notice given for the public input time of it,” she said. “I haven’t received any requests from any residents to extend that time myself.”

Porter said increasing the comment period is an administrative decision; the council does not have a hand in it.

The current comment period is not the end of the road for residents to voice their opinions about the plan, she said.

“There is another process,” she said. “Once the Planning and Zoning Commission gets whatever recommendations and tweaks to plan (whatever) they think needs to be happening, they will have another public hearing — then it would come to the council, where we would also have more public hearings.”

She said the final decision is months away.

The council also approved its state capital improvements plan priority list for next year.

City Manager Rick Koch described the list as a “fluid process,” because he said the state does not always grant the city its requested project funds.

The city’s number one priority is paving and improving city streets. Koch is requesting $1 million from the state for the project, which would lower the city’s street maintenance costs.

Priority two aims to conduct the first phase of upgrades to the city’s waste water treatment plant, to comply with the Department of Environmental Conservations’ likely increase in standards, Koch said. He is asking the state for about $1.67 million.

Priority three, the most expensive project at $2 million, would build a new, one-million gallon water storage reservoir.

“Any of these systems — whether it is a waste water treatment system, a water treatment system, a water storage system — it’s a really good idea to have redundancy,” Koch said.

Currently, the city’s three-million gallon water storage reservoir has no back up, and the city needs to drain it for repairs, he said.

Repairs will take four to six months to complete, he said, and in the mean time the city will need an alternative site to store its water.

Priority four requests $2 million for a new city shop to store and repair the city’s maintenance equipment. The old shop is too small and does not have proper ventilations systems, according to the SFY 2014 capital improvements project document.

Priority five aims to construct phase two of the Kenai Industrial Park. Koch is requesting $500,000 for phase two.

Priority six will improve the personal use fishery. Koch is asking for $150,000 to build three stations at the North and South Beach and the City Boat Launch for fish cleaning and waste, data collection, and enforcing fishery rules.

Last year the state granted the city $150,000, Koch said, providing them with enough money to build a station on North Beach, but an additional $150,000 will allow the city to build the other stations.

Mayor Porter swore in Ryan Marquis and Molly for their new three-year terms on city council. The council also voted 4-2 to re-elect Marquis as vice mayor.

Dan Schwartz can be reached at daniel.schwartz@peninsulaclarion.com.

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