Kenai assembly delays action on land suit

Posted: Friday, April 21, 2000

KENAI (AP) -- Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly members voted this week to postpone action on Mayor Dale Bagley's attempt to get more key recreational lands for the borough to subdivide and sell. The assembly is about evenly split on whether to support Bagley's lawsuit appealing the Kenai Area Plan.

''It basically comes down to a philosophical difference of whether land should eventually get into private ownership -- there's a market and there's a need -- or whether it should be locked up in parks,'' Bagley aid. ''We have plenty of parks.''

Bagley wants the borough to be allowed to get prime state-owned real estate on the shore of Kenai and Trail lakes as part of the remaining 44,000 acres of land it can claim from the state.

But a significant segment of the borough population feels ''that the selection of a piece of land by the borough is somehow bad news for the community and bad news for natural resources,'' said Soldotna's Margaret Spahn.

Bagley says the borough should be allowed to select certain land by Kenai and Trail lakes, but the Kenai Area Plan puts that out of reach. Like the state's 1997 Kenai River Comprehensive Management Plan, the new Kenai Area Plan suggests that much of the land Bagley wants should instead be added to the state park system.

Bagley appealed to the court on April 7 but said he would withdraw the appeal if the borough assembly did not endorse it. After a long hearing Tuesday night, the assembly postponed voting until its May 2 meeting in Seward.

Assembly members Patrick O'Brien of Seward, Pete Sprague of Soldotna, Chris Moss of Homer and Tim Navarre of Kenai spoke against the appeal. Assembly members Jack Brown of Nikiski, Grace Merkes of Sterling and Paul Fischer of Kasilof spoke for it.

Kenai assembly member Bill Popp took no position, and Drew Scalzi of Homer said he was having a difficult time picking sides. It was Scalzi who brought up the idea of postponing the vote.

The assembly voted 5-4 for postponement, with Navarre, O'Brien, Sprague and Moss in the minority.

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