"It's been a long and sometimes painful process," Soldotna Mayor Ken Lancaster said at Wednesday night's meeting of the Soldotna City Council.
After nearly three years of wrangling, wheeling and dealing, the legal documents solidifying a three-way land swap between Soldotna, the Kenai Peninsula Borough and the state Department of Transportation and Public Facilities are finished and ready to sign.
Once signatures are affixed by the three parties, Soldotna will receive a lease on a bit more than 8 acres of land formerly occupied by DOT's maintenance facility. The parcel will be used for an extension of Soldotna Creek Park.
During the lease, DOT will clean up a residual chemical contamination accumulated over the decades the plot was used as a machine shop.
After the lease expires -- which could take up to three years, depending on DOT -- the city will take full possession of the property.
"It's not without risk," said Soldotna City Manager Tom Boedeker.
The risk is in trusting the state to clean up the soil pollution caused by the shop, Boedeker said.
"Right now, there is nothing identified for further clean up," he added.
In other council news:
n Council member David Carey, who is a full-time teacher at Skyview High School, informed the council of a staff meeting held that morning.
"By next Monday, we must submit what 1.3 (full-time positions) cuts we're willing to accept," Carey said.
He continued by saying Soldotna High School will be cutting 2.2 full-time positions at the same time.
"That was an interesting way to start the school day," Carey said. "To be told the principal, by Monday, will tell 1.3 teachers they're not going to return next year."
Carey said the staff discussed other potential impacts of the state budget cuts to education, including elimination of the soccer and ice hockey programs. Closing Skyview entirely also has been discussed, he said.
The schools also are looking for ways to increase revenues.
"There will be no family caps (for fees) next year," Carey said.
Council member Steve Horn said funding cuts to education have reached crisis levels.
"Education should be a top priority in this state," said Horn. "You talk about eliminating a language teacher and nobody gets excited. Talk about cutting hockey and it gets people's attention."
n Two resolutions were passed to purchase spiked traffic-stopping systems and six new radar guns for the Soldotna Police Department.
n A resolution was passed to clarify the city's snow removal priorities.
n Mid-year budget adjustments were proposed and a public meeting on the amendments was set for Feb. 23.
n The council commended Wes Coleman for his work with the city Planning and Zoning Commission, the borough Planning Commission and the city Airport Commission.
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