School playground upgrades will be done this summer

Posted: Wednesday, July 25, 2007

An ongoing project to upgrade school playground equipment should be completed this summer, thanks in part to a $70,000 state grant formally accepted and appropriated by the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly at its July 10 meeting.

For the past few years, the borough has been working to repair and replace unsafe schoolyard equipment. Work at some schools already is complete, administration Chief of Staff Tim Navarre said recently.

Alaska lawmakers included $70,000 for the continuing work in the new state budget, and that item survived Gov. Sarah Palin's budget vetoes. That money was appropriated via Ordinance 2006-19-58, which assembly members passed unanimously.

Bonnie Golden, borough grants manager, said the legislative grant requires no matching funds and the money would be available for up to five years. However, the borough maintenance department anticipates completing as nearly as possible all remaining playground upgrades this summer with what is left in the FY 2007 borough budget and the additional $70,000 in state funding.

Among the schools expected to see work done this year are Sterling Elementary and Mountain View Elementary, schools at Kachemak Selo and Voznesenka, as well as other campuses around the borough, Navarre said.

At its July 10 meeting, the assembly also enacted Ordinance 2006-19-56, appropriating $50,000 in interest income from the Spruce Bark Beetle Program's environmental protection fund balance to address deficiencies at facilities recently leased by the borough to Cooper Landing Emergency Services Inc. Water, sewer and electrical problems have been found that must be addressed to make the facilities properly useable, according to Assembly President Ron Long.

In a memo to the assembly, Long noted that the improvements would support the Cooper Landing nonprofit agency's ability to respond to fire and other issues stemming from the beetle infestation, as well as providing other emergency responses in the area.

The $50,000 is a part of the interest money earned on approximately $15 million appropriated by Congress since 1998 meant for wild land fire mitigation, hazardous tree removal and other projects meant to limit the devastation wrought by the beetles. Long said interest income derived from those funds is unrestricted, and that the borough currently banks about $185,000 in interest income from the congressional money.

In other business, the assembly:

* Passed Resolution 2007-050 authorizing award of a contract for the Kasilof River Road Capital Improvement Project to CIC Inc., a Sterling contractor. A hearing is scheduled for Aug. 7.

* Introduced Ordinance 2007-19-02 appropriating $14.7 million in general obligation proceeds to the bond-funded capital project fund for South Peninsula Hospital Service Area improvement projects. A hearing is set for Aug. 21.

* Introduced Ordinance 2007-23 authorizing the sale of certain parcels of borough land by sealed bid. The bid opening is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 25. The sale would include parcels in Anchor Point, Ninilchik, and Kalifornsky Beach. A public hearing is scheduled for Aug. 7.

* Introduced Ordinance 2007-27 providing for a supplemental appropriation of $111,324 to the special assessment fund for the Chinulna Point Subdivision Road Improvement district. A hearing is scheduled for Aug. 7.

* Introduced Ordinance 2007-28, which would amend borough code to align certain provisions for South Peninsula Hospital Service Area with those applied to Central Kenai Peninsula Hospital Service Area and to take back powers delegated by the assembly to the south peninsula service board. A hearing is scheduled for Aug. 7.

* Introduced Ordinance 2007-29, which would amend borough code to provide that the assembly may rescind by resolution authority delegated to service area boards without providing 90 days' notice. A hearing is set for Aug. 7.

* Confirmed the appointments of the following people to the Kenai Peninsula Borough Planning Commission (all terms expire July 31, 2010): Philip W. Bryson, representing Kenai; Rick Foster, representing Homer; Joanne Collins, representing Anchor Point/Ninilchik; and Todd Peterson, representing East Peninsula.

Hal Spence can be reached at

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