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Finished trails and recreation plan allows for additional ideas

Posted: January 13, 2014 - 11:20pm

After about a year of working on the City of Soldotna Recreation and Trails Master Plan, Casey Planning and Design has completed the document made up of more than 70 pages of assessments, survey results, recommendations and implementation plans.

The Soldotna City Council at its Wednesday meeting adopted the plan, which will provide the city with a framework of projects and priorities residents would like to see realized in Soldotna.

“It’s really exciting,” said Nancy Casey of Casey Planning and Design.

The plan was close to 95 percent complete in July and the Soldotna Parks and Recreation Advisory Board reviewed the plans to bring it up to the 100 percent completion mark.

“(The board) really dove into it and took it seriously,” she said.

Even though the plan is complete, Andrew Carmichael, parks and recreation director, said it allows for opportunities that “pop up” to be added to the plan.

“It’s dynamic,” he said. “Some people could say (the plan is) vague, and in some cases it will be, but that allows for … great (ideas).”

He said the “spirit” of the plan is to get residents outside and active.

Through the community outreach phase of the plan Carmichael said the community completed about 1,000 surveys about what people would like to see developed in Soldotna’s recreation. In addition to the surveys, the department held public meetings to gather input and Casey went to meetings of various organizations to hear their ideas.

“I think I was pleasantly surprised in the community support and enthusiasm that we saw everywhere we turned,” Casey said. … “Everyone saw the benefit to the community and they were behind it. It was almost too good to be true.”

Carmichael and Casey both said connectivity between trails is a major goal in the plan as well as expanding the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex.

“We have so many economic drivers now in this community, we need to step up on our quality of life,” Casey said.

Other highlights in the plan Casey noted creating more mountain bike and single-track trails and making Karen Street Park more of a community park.

The plan lays out a five-year implementation plan listing certain recommendations under each fiscal year. Carmichael said those projects will be considered for capital budget requests and the department will move forward with plans based on available funding.

“It’s really important not to put this on the shelf,” Casey said.

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

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