The city of Soldotna is the proud new owner of 8.11 acres of riverfront property in the heart of town.
The city council voted Wednesday night to exercise an option to take over title of the former Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities maintenance site, just off the Sterling Highway next to Don Jose's restaurant. The site is adjacent to the city's existing Soldotna Creek Park which sits on a high bank above the Kenai River.
The city entered into an agreement with the state three years ago to begin the process of taking over the property. Concerns about contamination from chemicals left on site led the city to hire an outside consultant to evaluate the land's potential risk to the city.
Ron Rozak of Rozak Engineering gave a report to the city Wednesday. Rozak said he does not believe the contaminant levels on site -- notably, cadmium, benzene and chlorides -- pose a significant risk to the city when compared with the potential benefits of taking over the site. He said although some levels are above what's allowed for drinking water, the site's potential use as a recreation area outweighs the contamination concerns.
"I don't see a risk to the site as it is," Rozak said during remarks to the council.
Since the city only will be using the site for recreational purposes, Rozak said he believes the risks posed by the elevated contaminant levels are negligible.
The council agreed with Rozak's assessment, voting 4-0 to take over ownership of the property. Council members Jim Stogsdill and Scott McLane were absent.
The council had until today to make a decision on whether to go forward with the acquisition, otherwise, the state would have kept the property.
City Manager Tom Boedeker said Wednesday he's been working on the land deal for nearly as long as he's held his position.
"This has been seven years in the making," he said.
Mayor Dave Carey believes the land acquisition is an extremely positive move for the city.
"This represents a historic step in the city of Soldotna," Carey said.
Boedeker said Thursday that the city is now in the process of finalizing the deal with the state. He said the paperwork will likely take a couple weeks to finalize, at which point the city will become the official owners of the property.
In other action Wednesday, the council:
Appropriated $1,000 from the mayor and council budget for the 2003 state champion Soldotna High School Mock Trial team to travel to the national competition May 9 and 10 in New Orleans.
Voted to send a letter to the House Education and Social Services Committee and House Finance Committee opposing the passage of House Bill 165, which would affect funding for community schools programs statewide.
Approved Carey's appointment of Jim Golden to the city's Parks and Recreation Advisory Board.
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