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Soldotna council swears in officer, accepts Hartman resignation

Posted: July 25, 2013 - 8:05pm

Wednesday night’s Soldotna City Council meeting started with the welcoming of a new police officer and ended with a farewell to a resigning council member.

Soldotna Police Chief Peter Mlynarik swore in new officer, Mitchell Burdick, originally from Soldotna. Mlynarik said Burdick had to take a series of physical, reading, writing and psychological tests to become an officer.

“It isn’t an easy deal,” Mynarik said at the meeting.

After reciting and signing an oath, Burdick shook hands with city administration and council members.

The department has one open position on its force.

The council passed two resolutions creating special assessment districts for Tyee Street and Porcupine Court.

Tyee Street enhancements include asphalt paving and drainage improvements. Twelve properties will benefit from these improvements. The project is listed in Soldotna’s 5-year Capital Improvement Plan as a priority. The city originally estimated the project to cost $504,851, but received a lower bid. The resolution was amended to a total project cost of $421,826. The city will cover 75 percent of the cost. The remaining 25 percent will be allocated per lot. No comments were received during the 30-day comment period.

There was little discussion about the amended resolution, however, council member John Czarnezki did ask Stephanie Queen, director of economic development and planning, why sidewalks weren’t included in the improvement plan.

“It’s commercially zoned, but it doesn’t feel like some of our more pedestrian traveled commercial downtown area because of the type of developments that are already there,” Queen said. … “We felt that the level traffic on the street was not so significant that there posed a great danger for folks there to justify the additional cost of the sidewalk to serve those few facilities.”

Queen said the department recommended additional dirt work be done to prepare the ground for future sidewalks.

The amended resolution passed unanimously.

The council then considered two resolutions for the SAD for Porcupine Court. The proposed renovations for this street include pavement, curb, gutter and drainage improvements. This cul-de-sac ending street has 16 properties. Four properties are city-owned. Three of the city properties are undeveloped. The Waste Water Treatment Plant and Animal Control buildings are on the fourth parcel, which is the only non-residentially zoned property in the assessment district. The planning and zoning department recommended that the city fund 75 percent of the cost in this SAD as well. The substitute resolution that the council passed requested that 12.5 percent of the remaining cost to be split equally among properties. The remaining cost will be divided according to the area of the parcel.

Queen said the reason for dividing the cost was to shift additional cost to the larger lots, like the one housing the Waste Water Treatment Plant. The original resolution had an estimated cost of $458,269. This resolution, which divided 12.5 percent of the cost by assessed land value, was the proposed plan sent to property owners. The substitute resolution has a total estimated cost of $360,333, which was calculated after the city received a competitive bid for the project.

The city received many comments as well as alternative solutions from the SAD residents about the original resolution, Queen said.

Property owners did not receive direct notification of the substitute resolution. The lower estimated cost as well as splitting 12.5 percent of the cost among properties based on the area of the parcel lowered the cost to all property owners.

“When I first looked at (the documents) and was looking at the street being city occupied, I was thinking, ‘Well we should probably end up paying about half of the quarter, of the part that would be assessed to the public.’ And that’s what we’ve come close to doing through the methodology that you’ve done, so I appreciate that,” Czarnezki said before asking about why sidewalks were also excluded in this SAD.

Queen said with substandard right of way and overhead utility lines, the city was constrained with enough space for sidewalks. And with the SAD being a mostly residential neighborhood there wasn’t a “compelling reason to try and overcome those challenging obstacles.”

Council member Pete Sprague was the opposing vote to passing the substitute resolution.

“I would like to hear what the property owners have to say about ... reduction in the individual parcel cost as well as the project itself,” Sprague said at the meeting.

The council unanimously voted to pass a resolution allowing the city manager to enter a contract with Alaska Roadbuilders Inc. for the Tyee Street, Porcupine Court and Riverside Drive street improvements.

Council member Brenda Hartman submitted a letter of resignation, which was voted on by the council.

The council approved her resignation with council member Dale Bagley casting the only opposing vote with a laugh.

“I’m going to miss Brenda,” Bagley said. “Who’s going to keep me in line and smack me upside the head when I’m getting out of line?”

Hartman began serving as Seat B council member in 2009 and was re-elected in 2011. Her resignation was effective at 8 a.m. Thursday.

“I want to thank everybody for putting up with me for the last few years on the council,” Hartman said. “I have learned a great deal.”

The city is accepting applications for Seat B until the Oct. 1 election. At the meeting, Hartman said she has put in an application to finish the year as Seat B council member. A council member will be chosen at the fall election to serve the remainder of the term, which expired in October 2014.

Hartman will be relocating to Oregon, she said.

In his report before the close of the meeting City Manager Mark Dixson announced Rachel Nash, originally of Sterling, will begin as the new librarian at Joyce K. Carver Soldotna Public Library Aug. 12. He said Nash has been working in San Francisco, Calif., and is “pleased to be coming home with her husband, who is a Kenai native.”

“She is very energetic and has a lot of great ideas,” Dixson said.

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

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