The Parks and Recreation department for the city of Soldotna is holding a second open house on Thursday to review and give feedback for the Soldotna Recreation and Trails Master Plan.
The department hosted its first open house for the plan in January and offered a 20-question survey open from January to March to recreation users with questions about what facilities people use, what activities and events people take part in and recommendations for development, among other questions. Its goal of 400 completed surveys was exceeded by 180 additional responses.
A link to survey results can be found at http://www.ci.soldotna.ak.us/rec_trails.html.
The open houses and survey to gather public input are just a part of the initial phase of drafting the master plan based on the “Envision Soldotna 2030” comprehensive plan.
Nancy Casey, landscape architect, of Casey Planning and Design, was hired by the Parks and Recreation department to write the plan. She has been reviewing and incorporating community recommendations.
One “really big thing” for recreation users is connectivity between various trails, parks and areas of interest within and just outside city limits.
“Everybody wants more connections,” Casey said. “One of the bigs ones was a way to get across the K-Beach highway between Centennial (Park) — the sports center area — and Tsalteshi (trails).”
Casey found many people also are seeking more options during the winter months for both outdoor and indoor activities. From hockey and casual ice skating rinks to an indoor turf field, Soldotna area residents are looking to be more active during the colder weather.
One project Casey hopes to see completed for the community to enjoy this winter is the list of improvements to Soldotna Creek Park including a pavilion, new trail loop and lights. Other ideas for the park include an ice skating rink and a holiday market.
“Of course I’m super excited to see Soldotna Creek Park get lights and become kind of a winter carnival and the winter things that might happen there,” Casey said.
Dog owners should have a place to take their furry friends soon as survey responders ranked a dog park as one of the facilities residents wanted most.
“Shoot, from what we heard, people better be excited about the dog park,” said Casey, who drafted the dog park plan to be constructed in Aspen Park.
Other parks that could see some notable changes are Karen Street Park, home to the skate and BMX parks, which might gain a playground making it “more of a community hub for activity,” and Centennial Park and West Redoubt, which are being considered as homes for single track trail systems for mountain biking, dog walking, snowshoes, etc.
Indoor turf was another top pick for future facility development in the recreation users survey and will probably be recommended to the Soldotna Sports Center as it plans renovations and expansions in the next few years.
Casey believes many of the developments and improvements proposed could be achieved by 2030.
“It’s all pretty doable, I think,” she said. “It’s not super farfetched.”
This master plan is the first to combine trails and recreation. Some expansions and connections from the 2001 Roads and Trails Master Plan that have yet to be completed have been carried over to the trails and recreation plan.
The Parks and Recreation department is still seeking public input either at the open house on Thursday from 4-8 p.m. at the Soldotna Sports Center — where refreshments will be served — or via email or phone during the next few weeks.
The master plan is set to be 95 percent complete by June 11. Throughout the summer, reviews of summer facilities will be done, and the department expects the plan to be 100 percent complete in the fall.
Kaylee Osowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.