Dear Soldotna friends and central peninsula neighbors,
Summer in Alaska is a blur of activity as we run from the river to work or from a trail or tent to the office. Although we enjoy various winter sports, we tolerate long winters to enjoy the unparalleled quality of Peninsula summers. As the fireweed advances, there are too few opportunities to invite residents, neighbors and visitors to "stay in town" for great events. Therefore, I want to take this opportunity to invite all of you to place the weekend of July 25-26 on your calendar, and to join us in Soldotna for our 49th Annual Progress Days celebration.
Ask five people on the streets of Soldotna the definition or progress and you will undoubtedly receive five different answers. Although most view progress positively, folks from places where inadequate planning and irresponsible development have occurred view progress as the cause of adverse impacts to all we know and love about our town and area. We have all experienced the results of progress for the wrong reasons, and must all work together to guarantee Soldotna does not follow a similar path.
In my view, progress and unchecked irresponsible growth have nothing in common. I am proud to serve as the Mayor in Soldotna, where residents have chosen to live in a small, well-funded, fully-functional town that offers a conservative collection of services. We believe in providing reasonable and affordable recreational services for all ages from infants to seniors. We believe in the development of a healthy economy that does not dramatically increase population densities or adversely affect our incredibly high quality of life. Most importantly, we recognize the Kenai River as our most valuable natural asset and do not believe that our natural environment or the health of the river should be compromised at any cost.
I view progress as a series of solutions methodically designed by the community to solve inevitable problems. Soldotna has had periods where we have progressed effectively by working well together as a community and times where we've allowed ourselves to become divided. In order for the most effective solutions to present themselves, the most significant step we can take as a community is to learn to disagree respectfully and walk away from the table learning from and respecting each other's reasonable viewpoints and differences.
It is unusual in the U.S. today for people to live amongst the pioneers that settled their respective communities where they reside. In Soldotna, we have the rare opportunity to pick up a telephone or visit at the post office with the very people who homesteaded our great little town and whose names grace our streets, parks and subdivisions. These pioneers had the foresight back in 1961 to celebrate the installation of the new natural gas pipeline with Soldotna's first "Progress Days" (HEA first connected Soldotna to the power grid in 1954, only 7 years prior.).
Other solutions celebrating Soldotna's progress through the years include becoming a first-class city in 1967, the opening of the Central Peninsula Hospital in 1971, the opening of Redoubt Elementary School in 1978 and SoHi in 1980, the opening of the Soldotna Sports Center in 1984 and City Hall in 1987. I've skipped many items on a long list of solutions that define progress in Soldotna. We've had a proud history of community participation and I'd like to once more request that residents find the time to participate in our 2009 Comprehensive Plan titled Envision Soldotna 2030.
Progress in Soldotna should not be about what I believe, or the City Council or any other small group thinks or believes. Progress should be what we, the people of Soldotna, believe is best for our community. The solutions we respectfully create for our future provide the road map that determines where Soldotna is going and how we are going to get there. Yes, progress -- it's inevitable -- but it will also be positive with your commitment and participation.
I hope to see you all at Progress Days on the 25th and 26th of July and if you can't be there all weekend, don't miss the parade at 11 a.m. on Saturday.
Mayor Peter A. Micciche
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