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Trail connections, sports center raises concerns at council meeting

Posted: April 25, 2013 - 8:37pm  |  Updated: April 26, 2013 - 8:53am

The Soldotna City Council adopted its five-year Capital Improvement Plan on Wednesday night after discussing a few specific projects outlined in the plan.

According to the document, which covers fiscal years 2014 to 2018, it is designed to direct and guide the city of Soldotna with planning and managing its capital and assets. It is anticipated that amendments will be made as priorities and funding change.

At Wednesday’s meeting a few changes to the document were suggested and voted on by council members.

Council member John Czarnezki moved to modify the 2014 project plan by pushing back the construction of an elevated walkway between the Soldotna Sports Center and the Centennial Trail to 2015. In that project’s place he suggested moving up the 2015 West Redoubt sidewalk and lighting project and the 2016 construction of West Marydale street lighting.

One of Czarnezki’s reasons for the motion was that a recreation and trails draft plan is in the works and he didn’t want to “jump the gun” on the sports center and trail project. Another reason was that it is unknown how the proposed sports center expansion will affect future trails.

City manager Mark Dixson commented that the city will continue the visitor’s center trail to Centennial Park and that doing both projects simultaneously will be economically beneficial for construction labor and materials.

“I don’t see the benefit in moving it back,” he said.

The amendment failed 4 to 2.

Council member Dale Bagley told city administration he was concerned about there being more projects in the plan than available funds.

City engineer Kyle Kornelis clarified that the document was created to guide city planning.

“This is kind of a 30,000-foot wish list of identified projects meant to assist us with scheduling, requesting funds, man power, how much we’re capable of accomplishing in any one given year,” he said.

Kornelis said the plan will change based on unlisted projects that pop up or listed projects that may end up getting pushed back or are not needed. There are more items listed than the city can afford to fund or will be able to receive funding for.

Council member Pete Sprague moved to reduce the 2014 Soldotna Sports Center rehabilitation and expansion funds from $4 million to $1 million because he does not want that high amount of funds listed for the project when they “don’t know where the project is going.”

“We just want to keep it on 2014,” Dixson said. “It’s one of our crown jewels, and we haven’t treated it that way. Whatever dollar amount you want to put in there, I’m not concerned about.”

The motion failed due to an evenly split council.

Czarnezki moved to include the addition of a light at Kalifornsky Beach Road for safe pedestrian crossing from the sports center to the Tsalteshi Trail network to fiscal year 2018.

“I believe this is a good way to raise awareness and get acknowledgement that this is a priority for the city and to get it on our plans for the future,” he said.

Kornelis said putting the connection in the plan would show the Department of Transportation that the city and the council support the project.

The council unanimously passed the motion, and, without further discussion, unanimously adopted the plan.

 

Kaylee Osowski can be reached at kaylee.osowski@peninsulaclarion.com.

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