Kenai officials miss point about rec center decision

Posted: Thursday, July 24, 2003

What is the city of Kenai doing? The Kenai Recreation Center has been closed now since July 11 a period of more than 12 days. There is no reason for the city to keep the rec center closed other than to punish the concerned citizens who dared to challenge the legality of the city's actions.

If you call the rec center's telephone number, you will get a recorded message informing the public that the rec center was closed by the "Friends of the Recreation Center." There also are signs on the doors with that same information.

The city neglects to inform you that the Kenai Rec Center is closed because the city of Kenai violated the law its own code by awarding the Boys and Girls Club a contract to run the rec center without first putting that contract out to competitive bid.

Instead of trying to work with the Friends and the Parks and Recreation Commission to open the rec center, the Kenai city manager and members of the city council continue to work "behind closed doors" independently of public opinion. The mayor denied a request by the Parks and Recreation Commission to schedule an emergency meeting to discuss reopening the rec center under a plan submitted by former city employees to operate the rec center pending a final resolution of this case.

At the July 16 meeting of the Kenai City Council, the vice mayor suggested that city commissioners need "retraining" to understand their roles vis a vis the Kenai City Council.

And now the Kenai city manager is suggesting that the Kenai City Code needs to be revised to define a "professional services contract" to include "facilities management." I agree that the city code needs to be reviewed and changes made. Kenai's code is sadly inadequate when compared to other city codes.

However, the purpose for such a code review should not be to bring the code into compliance with the city manager's interpretation but rather to have a code that is sufficiently detailed to give guidance to our elected officials and at the same time protect the interests of our citizens.

Carol A. Brenckle


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