Peninsula projects, communities to benefit from budget

Posted: Friday, May 12, 2006

Under the capital spending bill sent to Gov. Frank Murkowski this week, Agrium USA will get $5 million to further a feasibility study of a proposed coal-gasification plant that would turn Beluga coal into natural gas and electricity to supply feedstock and energy to the Nikiski fertilizer complex.

An improvement project for Kalifornsky Beach Road will get $4 million, as will another to improve a portion of the Kenai Spur Highway. The reconstruction of Keystone Drive will get a little over $3.72 million, and a project for Wik Road will get $2 million.

The city of Kenai will receive $850,000 for work on city roads, and the borough is in line for another $2.1 million for road improvements.

Numerous grants were included in the budget, including a $150,000 education assistance grant going to the Challenger Learning Center of Alaska in Kenai, $100,000 for planning and construction of the Funny River Community Center, $50,000 for Soldotna Area Senior Citizens Inc. for a heating system upgrade and $82,000 for Sterling Area Senior Citizens Inc. for building renovations.

Communities also received municipal grants. Kenai, for instance, will get $40,000 for police department lockers, benches and seats, another $20,000 for public library books and computer equipment, and $322,000 to be split among public roads, water and sewer improvement projects.

Soldotna also will get road, water and sewer grant money in the amount of $178,000, and $20,000 for library books and computer equipment, and $40,000 for a veterans memorial.

Here are a few of other projects receiving grants:

· Anchor Point Senior Citizens senior housing study — $30,000

· Bear Creek Fire Service Area water tanker — $50,000

· North Peninsula Recreation Service Area pool ozone upgrade — $100,000

· Bear Creek Fire Service Area water tanker — $75,000

· Diamond Ridge nonmotorized vehicle safety trail — $65,000

· Kachemak Gun Club shooting range improvements — $20,000

· Lowell Point Fire Department building — $30,000

· KPB School District equipment and supplies — $50,000

· Kenai Central High School bleachers — $25,000

· School district minigrants for youth education development — $300,000

· Sears Elementary roof repair — $30,000

· Nikiski High School security cameras — $5,000

· Soldotna Elementary drainage — $45,000

Municipal water projects in Homer and Nanwalek will get funding through the Department of Environmental Conservation, including a matching grant of just over $1 million for improvements to the Homer Water Treatment Plant, and $340,000 will go to Nanwalek for water distribution system upgrades.

Other projects receiving substantial federal money in the bill headed for Gov. Frank Murkowski’s signature include:

· Homer Multi-Purpose Ocean Dock modifications — $250,000

· Homer Intermodal Deep-water Dock — $1.7 million

· Seward ferry infrastructure at Seward Marine Center — $2.5 million

· Williamsport to Pile Bay Road — $5.95 million

State lawmakers appropriated aid to municipalities to be put into municipal public employees’ retirement system accounts, and to cover the added costs of higher energy bills and other costs. The Kenai Peninsula Borough will get $702,000 for retirement costs, and $3.6 million for energy and other costs.

Here’s how much communities will get (first number goes to retirement costs; the second energy and other costs):

· Homer — $248,456, $213,701

· Kachemak City — $1,193

· Kenai — $235,223, $340,760

· Seldovia — $2,405, $37,595

· Seward — $186,026, $36,181

· Soldotna — $136,756, $192,576

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