With the apparent arrival of spring weather, Soldotna officials decided Wednesday night to reopen the city’s skateboard park, even before taking steps to help alleviate problems that have plagued the popular attraction.
Following a city council work session a week ago, City Manager Tom Boedeker devised a plan for making skaters more visible to passersby on Marydale Avenue, installing surveillance cameras and increasing patrols by police and other city workers.
City officials ordered the park closed last September due to continuing vandalism and reports of drug abuse there.
In a memo to the city council, Boedeker outlined a seven-point plan of action to reopen the park and make it a safer place for youth to ride their skateboards.
Existing ramps and jump equipment will be repositioned to create greater visibility from the street, but Boedeker said a heavy lift crane would be needed to do the work.
He said he learned a crane is not immediately available as construction season is getting under way in and around the city, and proposed opening the park in its current configuration until a crane does become available. The park would open following cleanup work.
“If we have to, we’ll shut the park for a couple days when the crane can come in, and then reopen it,” Boedeker said.
He said the city also is awaiting permission from owners of neighboring property to “remove many of the trees and brush to create a more open appearance.”
The city also will order two surveillance cameras for the park for monitoring activity from a remote location.
His plan called for the eventual linking of the video to the city’s Internet site so anyone could view current activity at the park, but some council members objected to the added expense that would entail, and moved to scrap that part of the plan.
In addition to increasing police drive-bys, Boedeker said employees from the city’s Parks and Recreation Department would revise their schedule and include trash pickups at the skateboard park in the morning.
Council member Lisa Parker asked if anyone in the audience wanted to comment on the plan for the skateboard park.
No one did.
The city’s proposed budget for the coming fiscal year also drew minimal comment from the public.
Barbara Jewell, a member of the city’s historical society, thanked the city for including funding in the budget for the city’s library, and urged the city “to do something to preserve your documents for generations to come and for your own use.”
She said with the ease of adding or deleting things by computer today, “it’s important to preserve the original hard copies” of documents relating to the business of the city.
With the absence of any other comments on the proposed $10 million operating budget, the first of two required public hearings was closed and no action was taken.
The second public hearing on the budget will be May 24.
Boedeker said earlier, the $10 million includes $1.5 million which is being transferred to capital and $600,000 transferred to other funds.
“Basically we have an operating budget of $8 million,” he said.
In other business, the council agreed to send a letter to the Exxon Valdez Trustee Council on behalf of the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce supporting the purchase of private property near the city visitors center by the council.
Ownership of the strip of property from Kalifornsky Beach Road to the Kenai River by the Exxon Valdez council would allow public access between Centennial Park and the visitors center, according to Michelle Glaves, executive director of the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce.
Mayor Dave Carey proclaimed June 2 and 3 as Relay for Life Days in Soldotna, commemorating the American Cancer Society’s team relay event to raise money for the fight against cancer.
He also proclaimed May as Motorcycle Awareness Month, but did not read the proclamation because motorcycle enthusiasts were not present in the audience.
During the public comment portion of the meeting, Kelly King, the student representative on the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education, thanked the city for “the time and effort you put in on reopening the skateboard park.”
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