Keeping the Christmas spirit alive and peering a bit toward Christmas Future, one Kenai councilman on Wednesday suggested the city add some light poles and budget for additional Christmas decorations in anticipation of Wal-Mart and Lowe's coming to Kenai.
"Perhaps we should plan for some light poles out Rogers Road ... and along Marathon (Road)," said Councilman Barry Eldridge at Wednesday night's council meeting. He said noticing the city's Christmas decorations while driving around town this holiday season prompted the idea.
Mayor Pat Porter told Eldridge the city's Beautification Commission already is formulating a plan for added holiday decorations next year.
Wal-Mart and Lowe's Home Improvement Center are both planning to build large retail stores in Kenai.
On Thursday, City Manager Rick Koch said he was told by Tom Adams of Lounsbury Associates Inc., the Anchorage firm overseeing both retail developments, the Lowe's plans are to be in the city's hands for review by the end of next week.
"A Wal-Mart representative was in Wasilla (Thursday) to meet with Tom," Koch said. "We should see their plans no later than the end of the month."
Wal-Mart initially applied to lease city property behind Kenai Chrysler in October 2005 to build a 235,000-square-foot combination grocery and general merchandise store on 37 acres of airport land.
In January 2006, Lowe's applied to lease land for a new store across Marathon Road from the Wal-Mart super center.
In the ensuing months, both retailers came to terms with the city to purchase the land on which they plan to build stores. The Lowe's store would be 139,000 square-feet and would include a 32,000-square-foot garden center.
Plans to begin construction and dates for opening the large retail stores have been revised numerously during the past two years.
At Wednesday's city council meeting, Eldridge, who represents the group on the Parks and Recreation Commission, said commissioners recommended siting another tent camping area within the city to replace the one tent campground displaced by Wal-Mart's plans.
The city's tent campground had between 10 and 12 campsites, according to Koch.
Councilman Mike Boyle echoed the Parks and Rec idea, adding a new tent campground should be situated within easy walking distance of Kenai businesses so campers would not need to use their cars to get to town.
No action was taken on the recommendation.
The council did approve the sole resolution on its agenda, transferring $30,000 in the airport runway safety area improvement capital project fund for additional engineering services.
Koch said the money is needed to replace some of the runway lighting equipment and to replace controls in a standby power generator building.
The city manager also arranged to have council members meet with Sen. Tom Wagoner before he leaves for the legislative session in Juneau.
The council agreed to meet with the senator at 4 p.m. Tuesday in city hall to discuss Kenai's list of capital improvement priorities it would like to see the legislature approve for state funding.
Phil Hermanek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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