Kenai City Council: Barry Eldridge

Posted: Thursday, September 30, 2010

Community input important to new comprehensive plan

Occupation: Retired Coast Guard Captain

Business and Professional organizations and other interests: Rotary Club of Kenai, president ( past president 2001); Kenai Chamber of Commerce, member(past director); Cook Inlet Regional Citizens Advisory Council PROPS Committee, public member(vice-chairman); Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District, director(past vice-chairman); Kenai Economic Development Strategies(KEDS) Action team, chairman; Salvation Army Advisory Board, chairman; Central Peninsula Habitat for Humanity, founding director: Love INC, past director.

Previous political experience: Kenai City Council(2006-2010), Kenai Planning and Zoning Commission, past chairman(2003-2006); Kenai Harbor Commission, past chairman(1987-2006)

1. Why are you a good representative of the City of Kenai?

I am a 25 year resident of Kenai and a 30 year resident of Alaska. I love the city and the people who live here, my desire is to continue to see the city grow and improve. My interests are to see more retail economic development in the city, more trails and sidewalks to make downtown more accessible and further restoration of Old Town. I will also work to improve the Quality of the water in Kenai and to stop the erosion of the bluff along the Kenai River.

2. What are the two biggest issues facing the city today? If elected, what do you propose to do to work on those issues?

The two biggest issues facing the city today have been with the city a long time. We need improved quality of water and bluff erosion control. The improved water quality is a work in process, we have plans to drill another production well, build a water treatment plant that will take most of the color out of the city water and lower the arsenic levels. I will work with council to find funding for this project so it may be completed by year end 2011. The other major project is the bluff erosion project to protect Old Town, the Senior Center and Vintage Pointe. We have the environmental assessment finished, the armor rock identified, design work in process and we await additional funding to get the project moving. I spent 20 years on the Harbor Commission moving this project along and it is finally within our grasp to accomplish it.

3. With the City of Kenai's comprehensive planning process upcoming, what would you recommend the city focus on now and in the future?

I would seek input from the citizens of Kenai to catch their vision for our city. I would encourage citizen involvement in planning for future retail development. The planning process will need to look at identifying land for development and also coordinate more with the Airport Master Plan to rezone airport lands for development. I would like to see the process identify more green spaces, locations for trails, sidewalks and how to improve lighting for those dark days of winter. The city has recently extended its water and sewer lines with plans for future expansion and we will need to look at where new roads and improved roads will be appropriate.

4. What does "quality of life" mean to you? What would you support to ensure this ideal for taxpayers?

Quality of life means everything to me and it is why I live in Kenai. It means a safe environment, quality education, parks and trails, sidewalks and roadsides with mowed grass and flowers in the summer, retail shopping, services for seniors and the youth, good schools and dependable community participation and support. We have all that and more here in Kenai. We have a strong Chamber of Commerce to help promote activities in the city and members who support the youth and the needs of others. We have an Old Town area that is rich in cultural activities, historical information about our native heritage, homestead cabins and the Russian Orthodox Church. Our Fine Arts Center and Playhouse keep the arts meaningful in the life of the community.

5. If the city was to hold another town hall meeting like the one this past spring on sustainability, what topic should city officials and citizens examine?

I believe that the next town hall meeting should not be restricted to one topic. I would encourage input from the citizens of Kenai concerning "quality of life" issues and "retail economic development." Although development of retail businesses is a decision of the business owners, sometimes the city administration and council can make Kenai more attractive to a business. The city administration has done a great job of making our city attractive to residents and visitors alike. The city shines when compared to other Alaskan cities and many visitors have made that comment. It am excited to hear the changes and improvements our residents would like to see.

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