Cooper Landing closer to senior housing

Posted: Thursday, August 21, 2003

Cooper Landing senior citizens took a step closer to their dream of developing a senior housing project Tuesday night when the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly agreed to reclassify 23 acres of land off Russian Gap Road as institutional and residential.

The borough previously designated the land as recreational in compliance with recommendations of the 1996 Cooper Landing Land Use Plan. The change was necessary to make it available for a senior housing complex.

Another 10-acre site near Bean Road had been made institutional under the local land-use plan and set aside for a senior center. However, later examination showed it included steep slopes and wetlands, topological limitations that made it unsuitable for the project.

That led to Tuesday's consideration of Resolution 2003-093, which reclassified the 23.3 acres of recreational land at Russian Gap Road as institutional, clearing the way for negotiations to begin that would allow the senior group to purchase the borough property at less than market value.

No exact amount has been set, but surrounding properties that have ranged from 10- to 12-acres size, have gone for as much as $130,000, according to the borough.

The Cooper Landing seniors would like to create a senior campus on the 23.3 acres, eventually including a senior center, independent living quarters, assisted living quarters and a nursing unit.

"There is a definite need of establishing a senior campus in our area of Cooper Landing because it is the heart of the area that we service," said Jane McConnell, president of Cooper Landing Senior Citizens, who noted Cooper Landing is a draw for seniors from the surrounding area, including Hope and Moose Pass. She predicted that if the campus that is planned is built, it potentially could draw seniors from across Alaska.

"Let us not be shortsighted," she told the assembly. "Let us not look just at what is needed now, but what is needed 15 or 20 years from now. As you know, the senior population is growing."

Charles Young, a Cooper Landing resident, said support for the reclassification and eventual construction of a senior campus has widespread support.

Mayme Ohnemus said people are eager to provide for the seniors people who had been working hard for Cooper Landing.

"Everything that's going on you can count on the seniors," she said.

Selection of the land as a senior site was deemed consistent with the Cooper Landing Land Use Plan, which recommended that senior facilities be easily accessible, close to a school site and sunny. While there is no school close by, land not far away has been proposed as a site for a future school, according to the borough.

The reclassification had won unanimous approval of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Planning Commission earlier this month. The assembly passed the resolution unanimously, as well.

In other business, the assembly unanimously approved Ordinance 2003-19-07, accepting $100,000 from the Boys and Girls Club of the Kenai Peninsula for the Community Education Center in Seldovia. That project had come up about $100,000 short of the funds needed to begin construction, but the Boys and Girls Club national organization filled that need.

The assembly also adopted Ordinance 2003-19-09, accepting and appropriating a grant from the Alaska Manufacturers' Association for $94,000 that will go to the Cook Inlet Salmon Branding Project, and Ordinance 2003-33, authorizing the sale of 41 parcels of borough land by outcry auction scheduled for Oct. 4.

By Ordinance 2003-34, the assembly authorized retention and sale of certain properties obtained by tax foreclosure. That property also will be sold Oct. 4, unless the tax delinquencies are eliminated by the owners before the sale.

The assembly postponed action on a resolution supporting House Bill 240 and Senate Bill 186, which relate to charitable gaming through the use of electronic gaming machines. The assembly will take up Resolution 2003-094 at its Sept. 2 meeting.

The assembly also:

n Introduced Ordinance 2003-19-10, accepting and appropriating an Alaska Department of Natural Resources grant of $70,000 for research and mapping of section line easements. A hearing is scheduled for Sept. 16.

n Introduced Ordinance 2003-19-11, accepting and appropriating a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, for $68,200, which will be used for forest health restoration work. A hearing is set for Sept. 2.

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