Kenai has a new excitement stirring downtown. The prospects of a new Home Depot store filling the old Big Kmart facility have lots of folks thinking about the home projects they can accomplish without having to drive to Anchorage for supplies. The prospect of many new jobs being available with emphasis not only on retail sales but also on persons with building skills stirs excitement.
Kenai needs to continue that excitement by encouraging more retail businesses to open in downtown Kenai. What does the city need to do to encourage to happen? Kenai now has an economic development director on staff, he now needs a commitment of interested local business people to assist him in seeking new business establishments to locate in Kenai. The efforts put into the Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District will benefit the peninsula but will not necessarily do anything for Kenai. It is now time to put our efforts and focus on business development in Kenai.
We need to support our local businesses, but we also need to seek new businesses that are looking for a friendly environment with the amenities and transportation access that Kenai enjoys. We need to get back on the economic development bandwagon and have a committee that will aggressively seek new vibrant businesses to enhance economic growth in Kenai.
My primary purposes in seeking a city council seat are to put my efforts into improving the economic climate, balancing the budget and seeing the Kenai Coastal Trail become a reality. Completion of the coastal trail will enhance the city by allowing residents and visitors the opportunity to actually get down to the Kenai River. By stabilizing the bluff, the Kenai Senior Center will no longer be threatened by bank erosion and all the land along the bluff will become more valuable.
Now is not too soon to be looking at the development prospects for the city land by the bluff, the Millennium Square project. Planning needs to begin now so that as soon as the bluff is stabilized we will know what we want to have developed on that valuable property.
Another area that the city administration should investigate is the extension of the city boundaries to include residential and business properties along Kalifornsky Beach Road and along North Kenai road for another mile or two to the north. Annexing additional areas should increase both sales and property tax revenues with minimal increase in city operating expenses. The increase in population and area for the city may also make Kenai more attractive to some businesses locating on the peninsula.
I would appreciate your vote for Barry Eldridge on Oct. 7 to serve as your councilman. My experience as a career Coast Guard officer, oil response manager and ship's captain have developed my decision-making and management abilities.
I have a master's degree in management, serve on the Kenai Planning and Zoning Commission, Kenai Harbor Commission, as well as experience in leadership positions in several local nonprofit service organizations. My vision for Kenai includes a well run city government, responsible business development, the Kenai Coastal Trail, expanded hiking and biking trails and more recreation opportunities for our youth.
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