Fleas wanted: City of Kenai in the market for proposals

Posted: Sunday, May 02, 2004

Kenai shoppers with an itch to do some haggling are in luck: A flea market could be coming to town.

The city is taking requests for proposals from anyone interested in operating the proposed market. According to Kenai Parks and Recreation Director Bob Frates, the idea is to have an operator lease the Kenai Multipurpose Facility, which is used as an ice rink during the winter, and run it as a summertime marketplace.

Frates said Wednesday he's not exactly sure how the market would work that would be left up to the operator but he believes running the market could be a draw for a variety of groups.

"It might be attractive to local service organizations, community clubs or even businesses," Frates said.

The idea was hatched by Dale Sandahl, a member of the Kenai Parks and Recreation Commission. Sandahl said at a February meeting of the commission that, after traveling Outside and seeing the popularity of markets elsewhere, he figured Kenai's facility would be perfect.

He said the facility was designed to be used as a community multipurpose facility, something the flea market concept fits right in with.

"This would be a community meeting place," Sandahl told the commission.

After Sandahl brought up the idea, other commission members were quick to give their support.

"I think this is something we in the city really need to look at," said commissioner Dick Hultburg. "I think it would be great."

Once the commission recommended turning the facility into a summer-use flea market, Frates began working on a plan to make it happen. Since the city is looking for ways to increase revenue, he said it was an easy choice to decide to put out for proposals.

"We're always looking at different ways we can get more use out of that facility, especially in the summer," he said.

As for how successful such a market might be, no one can say this early in the process.

However, Kenai Mayor John Williams, who also sat in on the commission meeting, thinks the idea should have no trouble getting off the ground.

Williams told the commission he believes the market will be a big hit, if only because the same people he's seen picking through flea markets in California and Arizona enjoy cruising to Alaska during the summer.

"The very same people you see down there during the winter are the same people you see up here in the summertime," Williams said.

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