Soldotna's wastewater improvements on hold

Posted: Friday, August 16, 2002

Soldotna needs to have a clear picture of where funding will come from for a new water clarifier at the city's wastewater treatment plant -- before starting work on the project.

That was the message Wednesday night, as the council unanimously defeated a resolution that would have awarded a contract for $2.59 million, the bid submitted by Soldotna's Blazy Construction.

City Manager Tom Boedeker told the council that awarding the bid would be premature and risky, since the city still needs to locate roughly $1 million in additional funding.

"I'm not averse to taking a calculated risk, but ...," Boedeker warned the council.

The city manager explained that the council could award a contract without locating money for the project, but such a move would leave the city in a precarious position if those funds couldn't be located when it came time to pay.

"You need to have more money in the bank," he said.

However, the project certainly is not dead.

In fact, Boedeker said the city will be forced to begin the project soon in order to keep up with the city's growth.

"In four years, we need to start building the clarifier," Boedeker said.

There are actually two parts to the project: the water clarifier and an ultraviolet ray disinfection system that would eliminate the risk of toxic chemicals polluting the Kenai River.

The city still has a couple ways of paying for the project. In addition to city funds which are already budgeted for the project, the council Wednesday voted to submit grant requests to both the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation and the United States Department of Agriculture.

Though either grant, if awarded, would cover the remaining cost of the project, Boedeker said the city had high hopes for the USDA grant because it would allow the city to use existing grant money to fulfill the city's grant match obligation.

"It would be pretty nice if we could get it," he said.

In other action Wednesday, the council:

n Approved the expenditure of $35,175 to complete work at the new skate park. The council had been holding off on granting the money in case new volunteers and donors decided to help with the project. However, that didn't happen, and the city will have to pay for the cost of completing the park.

n Passed a measure extending funding for the city's global integration system mapping project, which maps all facets of the city's infrastructure, from streets and sidewalks to sewer pipes and electrical lines.

n Waived water and sewer expansion fees for a proposed six-unit residential facility to be operated by Central Peninsula Counseling Services. CPCS needed a financial contribution from the city in order to submit a grant request for the project, which will improve housing for six to eight mentally ill persons in the community.

n Voted to award a $31,000 contract to Asphalt Marking Services to re-stripe Binkley Street, changing the configuration of the road from four lanes to three.

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