Assembly approves third-party management of public trails

Posted: Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly unanimously voted to support granting the borough the authority to enter into agreements that provide third-party management of public trails on borough land.

There are several groups throughout the borough willing to provide upkeep of public trails. Ordinance 2009-37 would allow them to do so as well as seek grant funding to assist them in their efforts, said Assemblyman Gary Knopp.

Assembly Vice President Pete Sprague said he wanted it to be clear that by passing this ordinance, organizations with existing leases -- such as the Tsalteshi Trails Association and the Kachemak Nordic Ski Club -- won't be negatively affected.

During the previous assembly meeting, Land Management Officer Marccus Mueller echoed Sprague's comments, saying should the ordinance pass, it wouldn't affect existing leases. The borough doesn't have trails powers and this ordinance doesn't establish those, he said.

The assembly also enacted Ordinance 2009-34, permitting temporary use of borough land for up to five years and clarifying the process for the denial of permit applications.

Prior to passing, the borough code only permitted one-year temporary use permits, which were non-transferable and non-renewable.

Knopp said there are currently 29 temporary use permits, which, prior to Tuesday night, had to be renewed every year.

A ballot proposition placing term limits on assembly members will go out to the electorate in October.

The Alliance of Concerned Taxpayers submitted a petition with more than 2,700 signatures -- a thousand more than needed -- to the borough clerk three weeks ago to ensure the term limits passed in 2007 remain valid through 2011.

Should voters approve term limits, the assembly won't be able to repeal or adjust term length for two years. State statute prevents assembly changes to the initiative for two years following voter approval.

The term limits allow for an assembly member to serve for no more than two consecutive terms. After sitting out for one three-year term, the member could then run for office again.

The assembly unanimously approved the measure.

After the assembly unanimously approved Ordinance 2008-19-23, appropriating $550,000 from the Nikiski Fire Service Area Capital Project Fund, the Nikiski Fire Department can now purchase two new type A fire engines.

The two, 25-year-old engines that the new ones are replacing will be donated to Tyonek and Beluga to supplement their current fire equipment.

Mike Nesper can be reached at mike.nesper@peninsulaclarion.com.



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