The City of Kenai plans to turn the pond on Marathon Road into a full-fledged community park starting this summer.
"It's been used unofficially as a recreational area for many years," said Bob Frates, the city's parks and recreation director. "Now we'll just take it to that next level and provide the infrastructure."
Frates said the city has a phased plan for building facilities around the three-acre pond adjacent to Walmart and across from the Kenai Peninsula Youth Facility.
Phase 1 includes a parking lot, vaulted restrooms, shelters and improvements to the beach and trails.
"It's the heart and soul of the park in terms of infrastructure," he said.
Phase II plans for a grassy play and picnic area as well as a smaller shelter, more trails around the lake, and an access point for dog retrieval training, he said.
The third and final phase would complete the trail systems in the park.
"I think what is intriguing about this is the water access and different opportunities to partake in," he said. "It's right adjacent to a pretty large industrial area. It's going to garnish a lot of use just based on the proximity of those box stores."
Frates said the parks and rec commission received a lot of input from "canine lovers" interested in having an area of the park set up for dog use.
Rick Koch, Kenai's city manager, said the plans also include lighting and a heated shelter so the pond can be used in the wintertime for ice-skating.
The Rotary Club has expressed interest in constructing and maintaining public picnic shelters, barbecue and horseshoe pits in an area of the park, he said.
Phase I will begin this summer with the construction of the parking lot and restrooms, Koch said. Calling them the "single most expensive features," Koch said the city allocated $150,000 for that work in this year's budget.
"I suspect at some point in July or August we'll see some ground breaking," Frates said.
While the working name of the area has been dubbed "Marathon Park," Kenai Mayor Pat Porter suggested the park be named after the Daubenspeck family in recognition of its donations to the City of Kenai. In the 1980's Howard and Rita Daubenspeck donated the land where the Kenai Senior Center and Millennium Square now sit, along with all mineral rights. The value of the donation to the city has been some $2 million over that period of time, Koch said.
According to Koch, the city previously leased the land surrounding the pond to Kenai Peninsula College for use as mining and petroleum training grounds.
Brielle Schaeffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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