With help from the Kenai community, a vacant corner lot will transform into a green space park this summer.
The Kenai City Council allocated $5,000 toward the construction of a park at the corner of 4th Street and North Forest Drive. Kenai Mayor Pat Porter, who spearheaded the project, will receive contributions and labor from the Kenai Rotary Club and Home Depot to transform a space that has traditionally been used a snow dump during the winter months.
Porter said the street has a lot of pedestrian traffic and is a busy residential area. Residents have expressed concerns to the council that children sliding down snow hills in the winter come close to street traffic.
“We will take that danger away and turn it into a green space with a walkway and make a great stopping-off place,” Porter said. “It will be a great place for sitting and watch the world go by.”
Community members have donated topsoil and volunteers will plant seeds for grass, Porter said. The rotary club will help build a pathway and install a bench while a team from Home Depot has agreed to build a fence in the back corner of the half-acre lot. Porter said volunteers will start work on the space and the grass could start growing by July.
“We have great people in the community who care what the town looks like and are willing to work to make it happen,” she said.
During Wednesday’s council meeting, Kenai resident Bob Myles, who lives near in the park area, asked why they needed another park in the area when Municipal Park and 4th Street Park are both in the neighborhood.
Porter said the park would reduce the danger of attracting kids close to the street, and is another way of beautifying the neighborhood.
The lot is down the street from Kaleidoscope School. Earlier this month, according to a letter sent to Porter, Kaleidoscope School Principle Robin Dahlman expressed her concern with the safety of kids who played on the snow pile in close proximity to the road.
“Children regularly can be found playing on the corner and jumping off the mound into the street,” Dahlman wrote.
Porter said Dahlman supports the idea of the green space and Kaleidoscope School will provide murals to hang on the fence, which will border two surrounding properties.
Kenai City Manager Rick Koch said currently there had not been money set aside in this current year’s budget for the park without doing a budget transfer, however, the council unanimously favored the idea of the park. Council member Bob Molloy said he would like to see a flowerbed added for the neighborhood to plant a small community garden.
While the cost of completing the project was estimated to be $5,863, any amount over $5,000 would have required council action. Because the proposed green space topic was a discussion item but not an action item, a motion to drop the cost under $5,000 to move the project forward passed.
Porter said she is optimistic that people in the community will pitch in with the green space.
“Hopefully we can get more contributions from the community and make this happen,” she said. “We live in a great town and the more green spaces we have for our residents make Kenai an enjoyable place to be.”
Reach Dan Balmer at firstname.lastname@example.org