Kenai to partner with Russian city, approves setnet site lease, honors firefighters

Council inches up on airport plan changes

Posted: Sunday, January 22, 2006

The Kenai City Council on Wednesday stopped short of approving a supplement to the Kenai Municipal Airport master plan.

Language contained in one goal outlined in the strategic plan was of particular concern to some council members.

Toward maintaining the airport’s financial viability, the objective states: “Lease land and facilities within the airport boundary ... at fair market value rates and limit the sale of land outside the airport reserve to preserve future revenue-generating potential of the property.”

In seeking maintained financial viability, the plan addresses specific provisions in the airport’s lease arrangements with commercial enterprises and service providers at the airport.

It also establishes an airport reserve and suggests retaining all city-owned land “to provide for the future economic, leasing and physical needs of the airport.”

Council member Rick Ross said that among the major implications of the plan is a recommendation that lease values on airport properties have an annual adjustment based on changes in the Anchorage Consumer Price Index.

Ross said he would like to hear from Kenai area real estate professionals on how they view that proposal.

In a letter addressed to the council from Kenai real estate appraisers Derry and Associates, it was pointed out that “adjusting annual rents based on changes in the Anchorage CPI does not reflect changing market conditions for Kenai commercial and industrial land values.”

In other business, the council adopted an ordinance appropriating a $33,025 pass-through grant to the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Kenai Peninsula. Brenda Ahlberg told the council the funds would be used for Title V juvenile justice programs that teach conflict resolution skills and independent thinking to youth, and paid for 10 new computers in the computer lab at its Kenai club.

The council agreed to have the city participate in a CityLinks exchange program with a Russia Far East city.

Kenai would be partnered with the community of Bolshoy Kamen. Kenai representatives would make an initial one-week diagnostic trip to Bolshoy Kamen in March, then that city would send representatives to Kenai in June or July and the Kenai officials would return to Bolshoy Kamen in the fall.

The council also addressed renewing a tidelands setnet lease for Ted Crookston of Kenai.

In a letter to council members, Kopp recommended changing the terms of the lease to two years instead of the customary 10 years, to allow city administration to explore “... actual market value of the lease, and various options for calculating shore fisheries lease rates.”

Testifying before the council, Crookston said the shorter term was “unworkable” for him because the salmon fishery forecast for the next two years is “dismal,” and because he needs a longer period for planning to determine whether he should make an investment in the fishery.

Siding with Crookston, Ross said, “I have a problem with changing a rule based on something we might change in the future.

“Mr. Crookston did everything required by our rules and applied for a 10-year lease,” Ross said.

Council member Linda Swarner moved to approve Crookston’s lease for 10 years at $300 per year. All council members except Michael Boyle voted in favor of approving the lease.

In her mayor’s report, Porter asked that the council consider changing its regular meeting time to 6:30 p.m. from 7 p.m., and reported that workers at the Carl’s Jr. restaurant being completed on the Kenai Spur Highway said they plan to open by the beginning of March.

The mayor also presented Legislative Citations to two Kenai firefighters, John Harris and Sam Satathite, who completed a lengthy process of having one of the Chigmit mountains named St. Florian in commemoration of firefighters lost in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

St. Florian, the mayor explained, is the patron saint of firefighters. Mount St. Florian is a 4,500-foot mountain across Cook Inlet. The Kenai firefighters successfully scaled the limited-access mountain Jan. 31, 2005, and plan to climb it again to place a commemorating plaque on top.

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