Soldotna will receive $450,000 to repair erosion to some Kenai River banks within the city limits.
The Soldotna City Council voted unanimously at Wednesday night's meeting to accept the funds from a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service. The money will be used to begin upland restoration along the river banks based upon need. The city has identified a priority on land just behind Pioneer Gardens, where the state Department of Transportation shop used to be.
The top of the bank has some serious problems, wrote Parks and Recreations Director Andrew Carmichael in a memo to the council.
"This erosion is in the form of large washes and foot paths," he said. "As time goes on these washes will continue to increase in size due to both the naturally occurring water runoff and pedestrian traffic."
The area will be targeted for re-vegetation to prevent future runoff.
The work, pending NRCS approval of the prioritized area, will be broken up into two phases with the first scheduled to begin within the next year.
Phase one will include slope work to establish underground drainage that would prevent future natural erosion. Vegetation will be put down in the area to strengthen the soil and a slope will be designed and added for future installation of handicap accessible walkways. Temporary fencing will be placed around the work area to protect the soil until the grass seedling take hold.
Carmichael said the eventual goal is to make the area into public park land, but this project will not immediately focus on that end result.
"We are not intending to create or facilitate river access with this project," he said. "Anything done will be done mindful of future Kenai River Trail development."
Kathy Langfitt, the assistant to the city manager Tom Boedeker, said the area would need to be tested for possible contaminants before it could be added to any public-use plans.
"After it is tested for three years, it will be turned over to city for park use," she said.
Already, the city has received more than $1.4 million from NRCS. Steve Bonebrake, city engineer and public works director, said projects utilizing these previously received funds are either underway, in design phase or pending at Centennial Park, Swiftwater Park and downstream from the Soldotna Visitors Center. He said these projects must be completed before moving on to the old DOT site.
"With the additional $450,000 we got, we will make sure we finish those projects already on the books," he said. "The old DOT site and additional work at Centennial Park are the two most predominant projects."
In other news from Wednesday's meeting:
The council voted to help sponsor the Kenai Convention and Visitors Bureau and Kenai Peninsula College joint program, "Spirit of Alaska: The Inner Landscape" with a donation of $250.
The council voted down a request for a donation of $250 to the Soldotna High School's After Prom Party. Subsequently, council members Sharon Moock and Lisa Parker offered to jointly donate personal funds on the council's behalf for the event.
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