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Kenai receives $4.65 million from capital budget

Posted: April 29, 2014 - 10:14pm  |  Updated: April 29, 2014 - 10:22pm

State money for a new road for Kenai’s South Beach access and a new equipment storage building highlight state appropriations awarded to the City of Kenai following the passage of the capital budget on Friday.

Funding for five new items totaled $4.65 million out of the state capital budget to be appropriated to the city general fund. Kenai City Manger Rick Koch said he was pleased with the response from the Legislature.

The Kenai Recreation Center received $250,000 for improvements; $400,000 will go to the fire department for a replacement fire engine; and $200,000 will be appropriated to the Kenai wastewater treatment plant for upgrades and renovations design. The new road and storage facility each received $1.9 million.

The city also received $2 million dollars to be re-appropriated for the Kenai River bluff erosion project. The state awarded the funds for the project five years ago, but the city had been waiting on a feasibility study from the Army Corps of Engineers before the funds could be used. Koch said if they didn’t reapply for the money, they would lose it.

The project to construct an alternative access to the Kenai River in South Beach area is needed to alleviate trespass issues private property owners have experienced during the dipnet season, Koch said. While funding for the project will be appropriated to the city, he said an alternative road is viewed as a statewide benefit, considering the number of people from around the state who utilize the area during the month of July. Construction of the new road should take place in 2015.

A new equipment storage building to be built next to the new city maintenance facility will replace two small buildings that are “significantly inadequate to meet the city’s needs,” Koch said. Currently, much of the equipment fleet is kept outside, which has increased electrical use and maintenance costs to warm up the machines during the winter months.

“The city has decided to move the operations and maintenance campus from airport property, where the city general fund must pay a lease, to lands owned by the general fund,” Koch wrote in an email.

The Kenai Recreation Center is more than 20 years old and has reached a point where mechanical, plumbing and equipment upgrades are required, Koch said. Because all the needs of the building would exceed $250,000, the city will hire a consultant and develop a priority list to address the issues requiring the most attention, he said.

The design plans for the wastewater treatment plant will enhance the city’s opportunity to receive 70 percent state funding from a municipal matching grant for the construction of a $1.8 million for improvements, Koch said.

The capital budget awaits final approval from Gov. Sean Parnell, who has line-item veto authority, although Koch said he doesn’t expect any changes for Kenai. When the bill is signed, the funds become available July 1.

Reach Dan Balmer at daniel.balmer@peninsulaclarion.com.

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