Soldotna land swap finally settled

Posted: Monday, March 20, 2000

It really doesn't take much to make Soldotna City Manager Tom Boedeker's week.

Finishing three years' worth of negotiations is enough to put a smile on his face.

Thursday afternoon, Boedeker signed the contracts closing out a three-way land swap between the city, state Department of Transpor-tation and Public Facilities and Kenai Peninsula Borough.

The only thing left is for DOT Commissioner Joseph Perkins to affix his signature to the documents.

"It's been a long, drawn-out process," Boedeker said, not for the first time.

Unfortunately, Boedeker missed getting the contracts in Thursday's mail.

As of Friday afternoon, DOT had not received them, said Murph O'Brien, chief contract officer for the department.

Both O'Brien and Boedeker said the agreement does what the parties hoped it would.

"(The city and borough) have not made us aware of any concerns," O'Brien said.

"I think it's going to accomplish everybody's goals," Boedeker said.

What the agreement accomplishes is Soldotna getting the old DOT facility site to add to Soldotna Creek Park. The borough gets title to the land the new Kenai River Center stands on. The state fulfills an obligation to give the borough land.

The agreement includes a provision requiring the state to clean up any contamination on the land from when it was used as a machine shop. At this point, there is no discernible contamination, Boedeker said.

"(But) There's always some concerns," he said.

Once the contracts arrive at DOT, there will still be a bit of waiting left, O'Brien said.

"It'll probably take a week for us to review it and prepare it for signature," he said.

The agreement goes into affect as soon as the final signing is complete.

The Soldotna land only can be used as a park and no permanent buildings may be put up in the first three years.

Boedeker said he hopes the land is ready for use before the end of summer, but some work -- including sodding -- needs to be done first.

"I doubt anybody wants to use it until we get some bank revegetation done," Boedeker said.

Still, after three years, having the papers signed is an accomplishment in itself, he said.

Boedeker said he never would have expected the deal to take as long as it has.

"I'm an optimist," he said. "My realist side said it's going to take a year. These things have a life of their own and you can't control them."

DOT also is glad to see the end of these negotiations.

"At this point, we're happy it's ready to be signed," O'Brien said. "We can close the book on it and move on."

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