Some folks may be chomping at the bit to bid on remote tracts of land at Point Possession, but they're not going to get that chance anytime soon.
The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly voted 6-3 Tuesday against putting roughly 860 acres of borough-owned wilderness on the auction block later this year. Opponents said it is much too early in the game to offer the property. Waiting until a road and power line are at or at least closer to the region would mean greater revenues for the borough when it finally goes up for sale.
Assembly member Gary Superman of Nikiski said people have been asking for years that the borough's public land be made available on the market. Resolution 2002-025 would do that, he said.
Superman noted that development ideas proposed for borough land on the west side of Cook Inlet are just fine ideas for upper-income people like doctors and lawyers. The Point Possession land at the north end of the peninsula, which is accessible by four-wheeler and snowmachine, is likely to be more within the financial reach of "working-class" buyers.
He said people have a right to that land.
"I'm sorry that there is an attitude up here that we can hold on to this property forever and make more money on it," he said.
He added that letting the land be sold this summer for less than could be realized when power lines and a road are built might mean less money now, but as private property owners develop the land, the borough would get back more in property taxes over time.
"One way or another, the borough is going to get its money," he said.
But others disagreed with the proposal to sell it now.
Assembly member Milli Martin of Diamond Ridge-Seldovia said she recently visited the area and came back with more questions than answers. She said she is not comfortable with moving the land this summer. She said if it goes up for sale now, there would be an expectation that the borough would come up with road money and other funding.
Assembly member Pete Sprague of Soldotna said he "had a problem" going forward with a sale without a plan for its development.
Assembly member Chris Moss of Homer said he, too, could not support a sale at this time.
In the end, only assembly members Superman, Grace Merkes of Sterling and Paul Fischer of Kasilof voted for the proposed sale. Fischer voted by teleconference.
In other business, the assembly:
Approved an ordinance to spend more than $305,000 on a Cook Inlet sockeye salmon branding project;
Approved an ordinance to spend nearly $230,000 to complete the cleanup of contaminated soils at Nanwalek Elementary-High School;
Approved an ordinance providing for an assembly review of Kenai Peninsula Borough Planning Commission street-naming decisions. Until now, those contesting street-name changes had no recourse but Alaska Superior Court. Ordinance 2002-28 provides an intermediary level of review at the assembly;
Appropriated $300,000 in Spruce Bark Beetle Mitigation Fund interest income to fund a cooperative agreement with Homer Electric Association for removal of infected and hazardous trees in areas north of the Kenai River;
Passed a resolution calling on the Legislature to adopt a long-range fiscal plan this session;
Passed a resolution retroactively allocating certain borough interest earnings to the school fund for fiscal years 1999, 2000 and 2001. In total, the money amounts to about $1.37 million;
Confirmed the appointment of Al Peterson to represent the North Zone on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Trails Commission. His term will expire on Sept. 30, 2002;
Confirmed the appointment of Daniel L. Gregory as chief for the Nikiski Fire Service Area.
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