Kenai City Council 3-year term

Smalley: Televising meetings could spark more interest

Posted: Friday, September 28, 2007

Name: Hal Smalley

Age: 60

Occupation: Assistant manager, Home Depot

Family: Wife, Susan; children, Jeanine, Kris and Brian

Education: BS in Education, MAT

Organizations and special interests: Central Peninsula Habitat for Humanity

Previously held elected office: Kenai City Planning and Zoning Commission, Kenai City Council and Alaska Legislature

1. How much more commercial development should Kenai encourage? Is it wiser to lease city property to retailers or should the land be sold?

The Kenai City Manager and City Council should be encouraging appropriate retail development in Kenai. Whether to lease or sell city properties to commercial developers must be decided on a case-by-case basis. While leasing is often preferred because of the continuing 8 percent revenue stream to the city, sale of city land may better meet the needs of the developer. In the case of land sales, the city administration should be open to negotiate the best purchase agreement possible.

2. What kind of development should be done on the bluff in conjunction with the planned bluff erosion abatement project?

The first priority is to stabilize the bluff.

With stabilization of the bluff will come increased property values, both of city and privately owned property.

During past economic development forums sponsored by the city, commercial retail development such as restaurants, lodging and housing have been identified as priorities for the millennium square adjacent to the Kenai Senior Center. Similar projects could be developed on other bluff properties. A historic trail walk would provide increased access and draw more tourists and local people to this area of our city. Any development consideration within the bluff erosion abatement area needs to be appropriate for the area with an eye to the future.

3. What can Kenai do to get the Kenai River off the impaired water body list? Is enough being done already?

Save the river. It can't be done alone! It is obvious that the City Administration and City Council will need to be leaders, encouraging cooperation with the Federal, State, and other municipal agencies. We need to give up the "them" and "us" mentality that draws lines in the dirt, serving none of us well. Increased population with its demand on the landscape calls for more rigorous standards. Joint water and sewer projects could help protect our aquifers and limit fecal material entering the river. It is in the interest and purview of all stakeholder groups to participate in reviewing and setting standards that will ensure a vital economic base around the river as well as ensure the quality of life that attracted so many of us to this area, and one that we want for generations to come.

4. How can the city better manage the dipnet fishery?

Dipnet fishing has been thrust upon the city by the State of Alaska. It has required the city to respond to many challenges created by this fishery. While some state funds have been received, the city has found it necessary to provide services beyond the funding from the state. User fees have been instituted in order to pay for the increased boat launching, parking, sanitation services, beach cleanup and patrols. Assuming that demand from this fishery will be similar in the future, goals should include increased enforcement, fish carcass grinding machines to properly process waste, and an improved process for launching and retrieving boats. Reduced rates for city residents should be considered at parking and launch facilities. I would also like to see an intentional economic marketing directed at those who are participants, as well as the multitudes who come to observe this unique phenomenon.

5. Will televising council meetings improve communications between the city and its residents?

Televising council meetings has the potential to improve communications between the city and its residents. Developing this program in conjunction with the Kenai Peninsula Borough Schools can create educational opportunities for student leadership and use of technology. Such programs require minimal or no expense to the city. Increasing youth awareness of, and interest in municipal government workings could provide a stronger foundation for citizen education and participation. Additionally, those who are unable to attend but would like more information, would have access. I believe open government should always be a top priority.

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