Convention center options weighed

Posted: Monday, January 15, 2001

The city of Soldotna continues to take steps toward attracting more conventions to town. However, some city council members disagree slightly on what direction the city may be going.

The two propositions that seem to be remaining include an expansion and remodeling of the Soldotna Sports Center conference room or building a new, stand-alone structure dedicated only for conventions, trade shows and the like.

"I'm glad to see we've come to a consensus on going with a stand-alone building," said council member David Carey after a work session on the topic.

But council member Joyce Cox had a different view of what transpired.

"I don't believe we've reached a consensus," she said.

In any case, as long as the citizens of Soldotna agree, it looks as if the city will do something.

Parks and Recreation Director Andrew Carmichael said the cost of either option the city chooses will most likely be up to voters, who may need to approve a bond resolution to fund it.

Costs range from $1.5 million to $3.2 million, with an annual debt service of a quarter to a half million dollars.

Apparently, off the table is construction of a huge field house to host conventions as well as sporting events. The field house plan would be big enough to enclose a football field.

While no final plan has been settled on, the council approved an expenditure of $56,950 for schematic designs and passed a resolution to allow the city manager to advertise for an architect to do the drawings.

"If we do move on with (a convention center), this award will be for all phases of the project," said Soldotna City Manager Tom Boedeker.

In other council news:

n The date for Soldotna's economic development forum was set for 6:30 p.m. on the evenings of March 5 and 7. The Soldotna event is one of a series of community meetings that stemmed from the Kenai Peninsula Economic Development summit held in December.

n The council appropriated $5,000 to match a $45,000 grant it accepted from the state for a study to update the city's transportation plan.

n Six women were appointed as election board members for the Feb. 27 special election to find a replacement for former mayor, Rep. Ken Lancaster. The appointees are Catherine Troeger, Kathleen Dotomain, Maxine Holifield, Linda O'Brien, Betty Harris and Jan Steadman.

n Three people were appointed to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. They are Susan Jelsma and Jay Rohloff for two-year terms, and Darrell "Mont" Casper for a one-year term.

n Two liquor license renewals were approved. One for the Riverside House, the other for Good Time Charlie's.

n A $250 building code variance fee was waived by the council at the request of the city manager for a 60-foot communications tower at the Central Emergency Services station in downtown. The tower is used by the Soldotna Police Department to back up the 911 system.

n Council member Jane Stein introduced Soldotna High School senior Alana Ratliff, who attended every council meeting since the beginning of the school year. Ratliff showed the council the government project she did last semester on council meetings.

n Police Chief Shirley Warner presented a business survey, window sticker and business card designed by three SoHi students for their government project. The survey of businesses lists owners, hours of operation and employees authorized to be there after hours and is available to the police department or CES.

The students, who were not in attendance, were Danielle Kerrone, Marie Marinkovski and Annette Rhoades.

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