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Bears, burials, campers on tap

Posted: Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Bears, burials and whether to give free campers the boot are slated for discussion at tonight’s Soldotna City Council meeting.

Alaska Department of Fish and Game wildlife technician Larry Lewis is scheduled to speak to the city about bear-resistant garbage receptacles for use by Soldotna residents.

According to city manager Tom Boedeker, Lewis has approached the city about the trash containers before, but at the time, the only bear problems were occurring in city parks, not in residential neighborhoods. The city did receive grant funding to place bear-resistant containers in city parks.

“We are willing to look at it for residences,” Boedeker said Tuesday. “It’s something that could be pursued.”

Soldotna resident Jim Fassler has asked for a spot on the council’s agenda to once again bring up the idea of a city cemetery.

Boedeker said Fassler will be recommending that the city take another look at city-owned land on West Redoubt Ave., near one of the city’s storm drain runoff sedimentation ponds.

The roughly seven-acre parcel is adjacent to a piece of Kenai Peninsula Borough-owned land the city had sought for a cemetery site more than a year ago. The city broke off negotiations with the borough.

The city council will continue its discussion about permitting people to camp at no charge on property the city recently acquired for airport expansion.

Soldotna Mayor Dave Carey said what the city does with the camping situation “is a council decision.”

Prior to the city acquiring the land, the previous owner of the property across Funny River Road from the Soldotna Airport allowed people to park their recreational vehicles and camp there without charge through the summer.

Now that the city owns the land, Soldotna motel and R.V. park owner A. Kearlee Wright has objected to the practice. Owner of the Best Western King Salmon Motel and R.V. Park in Soldotna since 1985, Wright said it equates to using tax money to compete directly against his private enterprise.

A number of RVs already have set up camp there this summer and Boedeker has said it would be cost prohibitive to fence in the land and keep campers out. He also said the city did not have enough staff members to post a guard there keeping campers out.

“We have flyers we are going to distribute telling people we now own the property and next year there will be no free camping,” Boedeker said.

He also said the flyers direct campers to the city’s two public campgrounds — Swiftwater and Centennial — as well as to the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce, which maintains a list of private campgrounds in and around Soldotna.

A construction management meeting is slated for 5:30 p.m., prior to the council meeting, to discuss the installation of a water main line to Kenai Peninsula College and street improvement projects on Crows Nest Court and Diane Lane cul-de-sac. Action on the two street projects was postponed last year due to cost, according to Boedeker.

The city council meeting is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m.

Phil Hermanek can be reached at phillip.hermanek@peninsulaclarion.com.



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