Assembly members plan second trip to D.C.

Posted: Tuesday, June 04, 2002

Three members of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly will fly to Washington, D.C., Wednesday to meet with Alaska's congressional delegation and the borough's capital lobbyist and discuss the borough's federal wish list.

This week's journey is a follow-up to a March trip during which assembly President Tim Navarre of Kenai and assembly members Gary Superman of Nikiski, Milli Martin of Homer, Grace Merkes of Sterling and Ron Long of Seward as well as borough Clerk Linda Murphy formally presented the borough's priorities to Sens. Ted Stevens and Frank Murkowski and Rep. Don Young.

"They just got back from a break and they'll be there until around the first of July," Navarre said in an interview Saturday. "This is a perfect time to go down and do the follow-up and see where we stand and answer any last-minute questions about our priorities."

Joining Navarre on this trip will be Long and assembly member Pete Sprague of Soldotna.

Navarre said he does not expect all of the borough's federal priorities to be addressed, but the borough likely will see some projects funded.

"If they give us something to run with, we follow up to let them know what we've done with it," he said.

Among other things, the borough is looking for about $6 million over several years for various senior housing projects.

"Stevens did put $500,000 in last year (for senior housing)," Navarre said.

"We will inform them as to exactly what we've done with some of the dollars."

The borough also is looking for funding for things like new airport lights, especially in Seldovia.

While in Washington, the three assembly members will update Stevens, Murkowski and Young about the progress on various borough projects, including the new fish-branding program sponsored by the borough and several fishing associations.

In March, the borough appropriated $305,550 from the general fund toward the Cook Inlet salmon marketing effort, by which the assembly hopes to boost the lagging inlet salmon industry. State grants either already received or in the mill will reimburse the borough for part of that expenditure. The focus now will be on securing funding for the future, possibly from federal sources.

The borough assembly also has tossed its support behind Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association's multi-year request for federal funds to revitalize hatcheries around the peninsula.

"Last year, Stevens and Murkowski supported a $1 million appropriation," Navarre said. "We are taking down the breakdown on what we would do with one or two million more this year, or whatever they can get allocated to the peninsula. We are really excited about that."

Thanks to Stevens, $1 million has been appropriated for use this summer for facilities and equipment the borough needs to have in place for the fire season. The assembly is to formally accept the money at today's meeting.

Sprague said he mostly wants to reiterate the borough's concerns.

"It's an opportunity for us each to make contact with our federal delegation. I'm really excited about that opportunity," he said.

High on his list is the need for a Soldotna clubhouse for the Kenai Peninsula Boys and Girls Club.

Long said he hopes to address Young's concerns that the borough's transportation wish list was too long. Long said it has been reduced from about 30 items to four, including the Williamsport-Pile Bay Road project, the Lowell Point Road project, the Nikiski Emergency Access project and transportation development near 10,000 acres at Kustatan Ridge the borough is about to get patent to on the west side of the inlet at Trading Bay.

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