Bringing a cemetery to town is proving to be a lengthy endeavor for the city of Soldotna.
The city council on Wednesday evening nixed a recommendation from the city's Cemetery Task Force and voted down an ordinance which would have conveyed Kenai Peninsula Borough land along West Redoubt Avenue to the city for the purpose of building a cemetery.
Council members heard from residents in opposition to the West Redoubt site before deciding the issue needs further study.
"If you don't do extensive planning beforehand, you're in deep trouble, because this is forever," said council member Sharon Moock.
Patty Dombovy was one of three area residents who spoke in opposition to the site. She told the council she does not want to see a cemetery in her neighborhood for a variety of reasons, citing safety and aesthetic reasons as her two major concerns.
"I am majorly against the cemetery going in there," she said.
In addition to public testimony, Mayor Dave Carey noted four letters that had been sent to the city opposing the site. He said the letters mainly voiced concern that the West Redoubt site would be too close to schools, lower property value and increase vandalism.
The council did not necessarily agree the West Redoubt site should be taken off the table. Nor did council members say they believe a cemetery is not needed in Soldotna.
"I believe that developing a cemetery within the Soldotna area is a very good idea," said council member Lisa Parker. "I don't believe (a cemetery) is the highest and best use of that property."
After voting down the ordinance, the council made plans to make visits to alternative cemetery sites over the next month. A couple of locations the city has considered include areas near Soldotna Municipal Airport and also Arc Lake.
Additionally, the council said more needs to be done to pin down the operating costs and long-term commitments involved with having a cemetery.
"If we do this, we have to do it right, and we have to continue to do it right," Moock said.
In other action Wednesday, the council:
n Voted not to make a $14,471 grant to the Soldotna After the Bell program. ATB had come to the council requesting the city help it pay for a budget shortfall caused by increased insurance costs.
The council said that though it believes ATB is an extremely worthwhile program, paying the insurance for nonprofit agencies is not the best use of city funds and could set a dangerous precedent.
"How many others are then going to come along and say, 'We're having a problem with insurance'?" asked Parker.
Authorized spending an additional $14,180 to make sure plans and specifications are in order for another round of bidding for the city's planned sewage treatment upgrades. The city has received a state grant for the project and last year put the project out for bidding. However, funding was not available at the time for the anticipated amount of the project, so the city needed additional funds in order to rebid the project.
Authorized the city manager to award a contract in the amount of $1.9 million to Zubeck Inc. for the Funny River Road water and sewer improvement project.
Authorized the city manager to award a contract in the amount of $301,882 to NorthStar Paving for strip paving Anthurium Street, Amaryllis Street, Rose Garland Road, Trollius Avenue, Lily Drive, Fairway Drive, Fairway Circle and Green Court.
Authorized the city manager to award a contract in the amount of $161,162 to Alaska RoadBuilders Inc. to pave the remainder of East Redoubt Drive, as well as the portion of Keystone Drive from Soper Street to Boundary Street.
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