Ridgewood, Diane Lane road upgrades OK'd

Posted: Friday, August 24, 2007

A number of residents from Soldotna's Ridgewood Drive and Diane Lane neighborhood urged the city to go forward with a plan to beef up their streets despite construction bids that pushed the project $170,000 over the top.

In order to meet the lowest bid on Ridgewood and Diane Lane street improvements, the city council Wednesday appropriated an additional $172,567.

City Manager Tom Boedeker said property owners also would need to kick in about $3,500 more than the previous assessment amount of $8,500 per lot. Twenty-one parcels are involved.

All bids received by the city exceeded the engineer's estimate.

Ridgewood Drive homeowner Carmen Stephl said she is in favor of the project, and told the council she had received faxes from three of her neighbors who also are in support.

Don Smith, also of Ridgewood Drive, said he and his wife are in favor of going forward, and Jim Golden, who lives on Diane Lane, said he and his wife favor it as well.

The street improvements include paving, some roll-curb gutters and rerouting a storm drain in order to connect it to the Knight Drive storm drain. The new budget for the project is $508,067.

The additional appropriation was approved unanimously by the council.

Approval also was given to a three-year contract reached by city administration with the city employees' union. Councilman Ed Sleater abstained from voting because his wife works for the city.

City employees already ratified a three-year contract, agreeing to a 3 percent pay hike in the first year and 3 1/2 percent increases in the second and third years.

The contract covers about 28 city employees in the Parks and Recreation Department, Public Works, the library and city hall, but does not cover members of the Soldotna Police Department, who are represented by a separate union.

After pulling a temporary employment agreement with a new assistant city manager from its consent agenda, the council voted to approve the pact with Rik Bucy, who already has been hired by Boedeker.

Boedeker said the purpose of the resolution is to add employee benefits to the agreement, benefits not customarily included in temporary employment packages.

Under the agreement, Bucy would serve as Boedeker's assistant until and beyond his anticipated retirement in August 2008. The 18-month term would also allow Bucy to serve in the transitional period when a new city manager takes the city reins.

"The main reason for pulling this (from the consent agenda) is to get to know Mr. Bucy's background," said Councilman Shane Horan.

Boedeker listed some of Bucy's credentials, including his service as manager of the Fred Meyer store and manager of the Tesoro2Go gas station operations in Soldotna and Kenai.

"I hired him because of his significant management experience and because of his experience in personnel management," Boedeker said. He also said Bucy's pay would be about $82,000.

In other business, the council:

* Accepted two Alaska Highway Safety Office grants totalling $11,550 to be used by police for increased drunk driving and mandatory seatbelt use patrols;

* Awarded a $72,375 contract to Peninsula Construction for repair of a sink hole on West Riverview Street; and

* Awarded a $19,300 contract to Casey Planning and Design for a conceptual design of the Soldotna Creek Park expansion.

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