The Soldotna City Council debated if Soldotna Creek Park will have enough parking space after approving two contracts this week for its expansion.
Council member Dale Bagley believed that the current plans don't offer residents enough spots, which could limit public access.
"Just because a lot of people have looked over the plan doesn't make it right," said Bagley, who voted in favor of both contracts.
The plan has been in the works for close to 2 1/2 years, said Mayor Peter Micciche. He said that there's room to add additional parking after the expansion project ends.
Vice Mayor Shea Hutchings said that the city considered three parking layouts while formulating the plan: one had no parking; another placed 30 parking spots on either side of the park, and the third, and current, parking plan.
Council member Peggy Mullen didn't want to create additional parking at the expense of grassy park areas.
Hutchings said that parking away from the park will encourage visitors to visit local businesses.
"Walking to events will create a healthier Soldotna," Hutchings said.
The park and playground will be closed during the construction work, which City Manager Larry Semmens believed would last from Sept. 15 to Nov. 15.
The discussion began after the council approved a $543,793 contract to Foster Construction for the first phase of work and a $36,331 change order for KPB Architects.
The council allowed Semmens to execute a sole-source contract for a firm to administrate the construction of the Soldotna Community Memorial Park for no more than $135,857. Semmens said that the company, Wince-Corthell-Bryson, had been subcontractors during the cemetery's design.
According to the city's muncipal code, professional services may be awarded without bid if the council approves it.
In other business Wednesday evening, the council increased the city manager's salary by 3 percent, making it $132,355 a year, following his annual performance evaluation. Micciche said the council rated his planning skills, record keeping and staff relations, among the criteria. The mayor described Semmens as a "dream city manager" and said that on average he received four out of a possible five rating on each topic. He thanked the manager for improving morale among the staff, helping the council with the cemetery project and efficiently slimming the city's budget.
"There's cutting budgets for the sake of cutting budgets," he said. "You eliminated waste."
The council presented Semmens with a $75 gift card to Mykel's restaurant and a bouquet of flowers for his wife.
The council also introduced several ordinances: one banning solicitation in Centennial and Swiftwater parks; another accepting $72,910 from the state to purchase radio communications equipment, another to add $1,764,526 to the Airport Improvements Capital Project Fund and an ordinance to add $853,383 for the Funny River Road Utility and Road Relocation Construction Project.
The public may comment on these ordinances at the next city council meeting.
A government teacher from Skyview High School, Linda Raemaeker, thanked the city for allowing students to sit on boards and committees again this year. The mayor invited anyone interested in sitting on a board to contact him. If the time commitment is an issue, the city will consider quarterly representation for students.
Tony Cella can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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