The city of Kenai opened its pocketbook for two major projects as the council approved spending more than $4 million on a new fire station at the airport and nearly $100,000 for design of a refrigeration system to provide more reliable ice at the multipurpose facility.
Through grants and entitlements, the Federal Aviation Administration will pay $3.95 million of the $4,130,973 price tag for the airport facility, which also will house the airport operations office, a washing bay and warm storage for snow clearing equipment and sand. The city will contribute 6.25 percent of the total cost, or $176,201.
The council granted the contract in the amount of $3.7 million for construction of the building to G-and-S Construction of Soldotna, and a contract of $276,698 to RIM Architects of Anchorage to oversee the job.
Ground work on the site, next to the control tower, was done last summer. Construction is expected to begin this spring.
The city also awarded a contract of $90,000 to Architects Alas-ka/Klauder and Company Asso-ciated Architects of Kenai to design a refrigeration system for the the city's ice rink. Unusually warm weather kept skaters off the slushy ice for much of the winter, prompting the city to look at refrigeration, which could provide good ice from September through April.
In other council news from Wednesday night's meeting:
n The city has made available for sale two more residential lots in the Inlet View Subdivision. One is on Meander Lane, the other on Inlet Woods Drive.
City Attorney Cary Graves said the city cleared up any title problems the lots may have had after they were foreclosed on. City Manager Rick Ross said several other such lots will become available in the next two months.
n Also in Inlet Woods, the city set aside 2.2 acres across five lots on Backwood Avenue as a neighborhood park. The lots share a pond created in a gravel pit at the far north end of the subdivision, bordering undeveloped swamp land.
The city Parks and Recreation Commission recommended that the 10 lots surrounding the pond be set aside, but the administration recommended only five. The other five, three to the west and two to the east of the pond, were made available for public sale on a 6-to-1 vote, with council member Pat Porter dissenting.
"Parks and Recreation was adamant that the lots were needed for a park," she said.
The mayor responded that there has been a "pretty thorough review" of the property, and that the lots adjacent to the park could be the site of some very nice homes.
n The council received a report from Fred Braun, in his capacity as president of the Kenai Convention and Visitors Bureau board of directors. He said revenues due to gaming have been the best in nine years.
"That probably had a little to do with Cook Inlet Region Incorporated money," he said. CIRI shareholders received a $50,000 check in December.
Braun also noted that another employee has left the Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center, which the KCVB operates for the city. He said it had to do with lack of health care and other benefits at the center.
"We lose about one a year because we have no benefits," Braun said. "I'm not saying 'go there,' but we owe it to the employees to look into it. We're the only (convention center) in the state with out benefits."
The comment sent the mayor thinking out loud about the possibility of nonprofit organizations, such as the KCVB, forming a pool and sharing in the city's health benefits.
Frazier, who is in insurance, said he was sure it could be done.
The city's administration will look into it.
n Braun also asked the council to consider underwriting the upcoming "2001: A Fish Odyssey" art show at the visitors center this summer from May 1 to Sept. 3. The council agreed to donate $1,000 to the show.
n The council rescheduled its first meeting in July from the first Wednesday to the next day, because of the Fourth of July holiday. There was some speculation the council could all ride on a flatbed truck and meet while riding in the annual parade, but rescheduling was preferred.
n The council begins three weeks of fiscal year 2002 budget workshops on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Kenai Senior Center. The workshops will continue on April 17 and 24.
n The council will begin the review of the 15 finalists for the job of city manager on Wednesday, also at 7 p.m. in the senior center. The city has been looking for a replacement for Rick Ross since he resigned in December, though he is staying on the job until his successor is found.
The next regular city council meeting will be April 18.
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