The Soldotna City Council continues to take steps toward making a new convention center a reality. At Wednesday night's meeting, the council approved a $56,950 appropriation to fund schematic designs.
Half the money, $26,365, was transferred from the city's sales tax fund, while the other half came from the Soldotna Sports Center building projects fund. It brings the total transfer for the sport center conceptual plan to $323,315.
With the money, the city will enter the design and program phase of a conference or convention center, though it still hasn't been determined if it will be a stand-alone structure or an expansion of the Soldotna Sports Center.
In other council news:
n The council approved a transfer of $5,000 from the sales tax fund to match a $45,000 grant from the state of Alaska for a transportation study within the city. The study is scheduled for this year and will identify the city's transportation needs for years to come.
n An ordinance was introduced that would appropriate $30,898 to match a $103,000 grant from the state Department of Community and Economic Development for improvements to Swiftwater and Centennial parks.
At Swiftwater, a new road will be built to connect the first camping loop to near the day parking lot. At least 18 new campsites and one new outhouse will be constructed there. Another aging and sinking restroom could be replaced as well.
At Centennial, 14 tent camping sites will be built near the entrance. Sand pads will be built up to elevate the sites, and each two sites will share a fire pit and picnic area. All the sites will be situated around a central fire pit.
"I think they have a better time there," said Parks and Recreation Director Andrew Carmichael. "They all get together around the fire and have a good time."
Parking for the tent sites will be just off the side of the road.
Work already has commenced at both parks.
"I've got a guy over (at Swiftwater) right now cutting trees and doing work," Carmichael said.
The work must be done by June 30, as that's when the state grant expires. Carmichael said he is shooting for a June 1 completion date.
The trees that are coming down at Swiftwater will be used by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for its boardwalk project there. Carmichael said the Corps is building a 650-foot walk from the boat-launch site down river, but it will not connect with the existing fish walk.
n The council approved a resolution awarding a $21,476 contract to Mike Tauriainen, P.E. Consult-ing Engineers, to update the city's construction specification guide. The specifications are used by the city for smaller projects not involving architects. Tauriainen won the contract over McLane Consulting Group. City Public Works Director Steve Bonebrake said the updated guide should be good for 10 years before needing to be reviewed.
n The council also awarded a contract in the amount of $6,880 to Wince-Corthell-Bryson to provide design and engineering for an exploratory well tie-in to the city's existing water distribution system. The city went with a sole-source contract since the firm recently had completed the design and construction inspections of the city's 1-million-gallon reservoir and control building, and the knowledge it gained from that would be beneficial to the work being done on the exploratory well.
n Bonebrake noted there will be more than a ton of road sand needing to be picked up from city streets come spring. The city usually buys and uses 1,000 pounds of sand on its roads each winter, but Bonebrake bought 2,000 pounds, and it is almost used up for this winter.
The next regular council meeting is scheduled for Feb. 14.
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