Alaskans show can-do spirit when it comes to road improvements

Posted: Friday, August 02, 2002

If you've ever thought Alaska's "can-do" frontier spirit was on the decline, some Kenai Peninsula residents offer plenty of proof to the contrary.

Two examples appeared on the front page of Thursday's Peninsula Clarion: Per Osmar collecting money to get the Clam Gulch Beach Road fixed and the residents of K-B Subdivision working together to get their roads paved.

It shouldn't escape anyone's notice that both these examples have to do with improving roads -- and in both cases residents appear more than willing to pay and be part of the solution.

Osmar identified a problem -- potholes that pose a safety hazard on the much used Clam Gulch Road -- and decided he could either whine or do something constructive.

He chose the high road of action, got the suppport of a state official, found a contractor who was willing to do the work for an affordable price and began seeking donations. Osmar has talked to several people who said they are willing to give $10 or $15 to the cause. The work can get done for about $900, and the Kenai area state Parks superintendent has said she can chip in $250. That donation lowers the bill to $650 -- which means it would take only 65 people to contribute $10 each to get the work done. Or 650 people to contribute $1. That shouldn't be hard since it's estimated that 60,000 to 70,000 people use the road annually.

In anybody's book, the price tag is a bargain -- and the more people who contribute, the better a bargain it will be.

We hope anyone and everyone who enjoys using the Clam Gulch State Recreational Area will contribute to Osmar's cause. They can do so by contacting Osmar at 262-9046 or making a deposit at the Wells Fargo Bank to the Clam Gulch Beach Road Fund.

In some ways, it could be viewed as a self-imposed user fee; in other ways, it could be viewed as self-preservation -- those potholes are dangerous.

Either way, the message that Osmar's fund-raising campaign sends is this: Alaskans still can do things for themselves.

That's also the message of the K-B Subdivision residents, who have worked to form the Kenai Peninsula Borugh's first Road Improvement Assessment District to get their roads paved.

It hasn't been easy, but the neighbors in the subdivision behind the Red Diamond Center will tell you the driving is a lot smoother these days.

It's estimated that the average assessment for the upgrades will cost homeowners between $3,500 and $4,200, payable over 10 years. What would not have been possible for one homeowner became doable because subdivision residents worked together with borough officials.

We expect the K-B Subdivision not only will inspire others to follow suit, but will provide a good model of how to go about getting the same thing accomplished in other neighborhoods throughout the borough. Interested residents can contact Gary Davis, the borough's roads director, at 262-4427 for information on how to get started and what's involved.

Not only do Osmar and the K-B Subdivision residents provide proof that Alaskans still have that frontier, can-do spirit, but they also show Alaskans are not opposed to paying for things they value. And they value good roads.

Is there a message for elected officials in this?

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