Council addresses Wal-Mart wetlands

Posted: Thursday, July 05, 2007

The Kenai City Council authorized $7,500 to offset the cost of losing a wetland to Wal-Mart.

"It's a marginal wetland," City Manager Rick Koch said after Tuesday's council meeting. "It barely meets the criteria for wetlands."

Koch said the Wal-Mart complex will cover 38 acres of land off Marathon Road behind Kenai Chrysler, and the building itself will sit over part of the 1.4-acre wetland.

The $7,500 also authorizes the purchase of 5.44 acres of land off Lawton Drive to be used for recreational purposes.

"I'm pleased about the reimbursement purchase agreement," councilmen Robert Molloy said. "But it's not stated in the resolution."

The council changed the resolution to include a request to Wal-Mart to reimburse the purchase price and appraisal of the wetland.

Koch said the property fell under the jurisdiction of the Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Act, the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Kenai Watershed Forum was involved in the appraisal of the property.

The Kenai Historical Society formed a committee to oversee the relocation of historic cabins in Old Town Kenai from Fort Kenay to city property. The committee hopes to accomplish the move before winter sets in, but has yet to set a date.

"We'll bring all the players together for another meeting with plans and a date for the move," said Kenai Mayor Pat Porter at Tuesday's council meeting.

The board of directors for the Kenai Chamber of Commerce met Saturday with plans to move the cabins at no cost to the city, Porter said. But Koch said Kenai should fence the buildings once they're moved to discourage vandalism — a project that would cost approximately $20,000 to contract out.

"(It's) our intent to get volunteers to help with the relocating and cost of fencing," said George Ford, president of the historical society.

Ford said the society donated $3,000 to the project, and Porter said the Peninsula Oilers chipped in $3,000, as well.

Ford also mentioned that two people at the Russian Orthodox Diocese wanted the cabins left in place, but they didn't appear interested in supporting or maintaining them.

Vice Mayor Joe Moore inquired about the kinds of attractions the cabins would house, as well as maintenance for the buildings. Ford said first the society will determine whether they can be moved before deciding on when the cabins will open to the public.

Porter said the historical society will focus on moving this year, artifacts next year and tours in 2009.

There was some discrepancy about what kind of fence to use. Moore asked that it should be something other than a standard galvanized chain-link fence.

"(We'll) look at other areas around the country to see how they enclose their historic buildings," Porter said.

The council postponed discussing a $2 million bond to be used toward controlling erosion on the Kenai River bluff and to add capital improvements to the library at Koch's request. Koch said this would give the public a chance to weigh in on the issue before it's sent to the borough for inclusion in the Oct. 2 general election. The public meeting will be held at the July 18 meeting.

Kenai Police Sgt. Gus Sandahl presented the youth services award to Kelly George, who spent the last five years as a youth services officer.

"(It's) one of the most demanding jobs, (but) it leaves a positive impact on kids.," Sandahl said.

Councilwoman Linda Swarner also congratulated library director Mary Jo Joiner for winning EBSCO Information System's Excellence in Small and/or Rural Public Service Award.

Jessica Cejnar can be reached at jessica.cejnar@peninsulaclarion.com.



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