Soldotna City Council members don't want skate park vandals to get a free ride.
With a large group of area high school students in attendance, the council on Wednesday heard a report from Soldotna Parks and Recreation Director Andrew Carmichael on damage done recently at the city park. Carmichael told the council that vandals have broken equipment and smashed a fence at the park, causing city workers to spend a lot of time making repairs.
"It's taking its toll," he said.
Among other things, damage to the park has included someone pulling off a gate, driving a vehicle into a ramp and destroying a large pole which cost the city $400 to replace.
"There's some stupid stuff going on, and it's only hurting the kids that are using (the park)," he said.
Following Carmichael's report, council members had some strong words for whoever has been causing the damage at the park.
"We could just close those things down and say, 'That's it,'" council member Jane Stein said.
Stein said she was particularly frustrated because she worked with young people for years to bring the park to Soldotna.
Council member Sharon Moock also spoke up. With a sizable contingent of high school students attending the council meeting for school, Moock took the opportunity to try and get the kids themselves to halt the vandalism.
"When something goes wrong and there's damage," she said. "... kids know who did it."
Moock said she would encourage anyone who has information about the vandalism to step forward and inform the proper authorities.
"I would really encourage the students in our community to step forward and do the right thing," she said.
Moock said she hopes the vandals are caught before they can do more damage to the park.
"Those people need to be dealt with appropriately," she said.
If the vandalism continues, the council indicated it could take more drastic steps, such as shutting the park down or looking into curfew laws.
In other action Wednesday, the council:
Voted to finalize a raise in the city's water and sewer rates. City Manager Tom Boedeker said the rates were last raised in 1991, and that a recent rate analysis showed that an increase of 21 percent is needed to keep up with the cost to the city to expand the system and keep up with demand.
The rates will not increase by the full 21 percent all at once. Instead, they will increase by 7 percent, effective Oct. 1. The rates will again jump by 7 percent in July 2005, followed by a third increase of 7 percent in July 2006. Boedeker said he's working on informing the public about the change and said the response has been pretty much as he would expect.
"Nobody's thrilled about it, but I haven't heard any major complaints," he said.
Set a public hearing for Ordinance 805 on Sept. 22. The proposed ordinance would reduce the city's water and sewer expansion fees for developers who lay their own utility lines.
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