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Capital improvements eyed

Soldotna's list of projects adds up to a projected $24.5 million

Posted: Monday, October 01, 2007

Roughly $24.5 million in capital improvements are headed to the city of Soldotna over the next five years, if a plan handed to the city council Wednesday gets the green light.

The 70-page long list of improvements contains everything from adding a gravel and ski strip runway at the airport to annual purchases of replacement police cars to street projects.

City Manager Tom Boedeker told the council priority is given to repair and replacement items on the list, and adding capital items is secondary.

Partly because only four of six council members were present for Wednesday's council meeting, Boedeker handed out the loose-leaf bound lists and asked the council to spend some time reviewing them before coming back with additions, changes or deletions.

"As with all plans, it is subject to change to meet the needs of the community," Boedeker said in a cover letter addressed to Mayor Dave Carey and the council.

He also said many of the projects proposed in the plan are dependent upon grant funding, "most notably the airport expenditures."

Over the five-year period including the current fiscal year nearly $6 million would be spent at the Soldotna airport, not including an approximate $1 million for a front-end loader, grader and ski-strip groomer.

The largest part of the expense about $4 million goes toward building a new gravel and ski strip runway, and building additional H lots used for storing private aircraft. Also included in the $4 million are new gates, tie-downs, apron lighting, storm drain improvements, asphalt repairs and new airfield signs.

In his letter, Boedeker said the airport projects are "highly dependent" on funding from the Federal Aviation Administration.

"Most FAA approved projects provide at least 95 percent reimbursement," he said.

Also included in the five-year plan is $1.5 million for the acquisition of Birch Ridge Golf Course, which has been identified as being necessary to enhance the lifestyle of Soldotna residents. If the city does not acquire the golf course and it is sold into private hands, it is unlikely it would be maintained as a golf course, according to the city manager's proposed plan.

No decision has been made by the council about purchasing the golf course.

Money to the tune of $390,000 appears in the proposed capital plan for acquiring land, planning and designing a city cemetery, as well as building a veterans' memorial, possibly for placement in the cemetery.

A legislative grant of $40,000 already has been designated for the memorial.

During Wednesday's council meeting, the city's restarted cemetery task force announced it has changed its name to the Memorial Park Task Force. Its next meeting is planned for 5:30 p.m., Oct. 11 at City Hall.

The proposed capital improvement plan also lists more than $2 million for expanding the Soldotna Public Library. Planning and design expenditures of $350,000 are scheduled for this year and fiscal years 2009, and $1,750,000 is slated for construction and maintenance in fiscal year 2010.

Boedeker said the proposals could be accomplished through "a combination of existing capital funds, grant funds and anticipated capital funds from dedicated sales tax and utility capital funds, fees and charges.

At $2.5 million a year, Soldotna would receive $12.5 million in anticipated dedicated sales tax revenue over the five year period.

Boedeker said he expects to submit appropriation requests during October for anticipated work in fiscal year 2008. Projects include the library conceptual design, the Kalifornsky Beach phase 4 sewer and funding for a water well.

He also said he plans to have work sessions with members of the council to discuss projects listed in the plan, other projects that should be considered and to be sure council priorities are addressed.

The plan document is to be posted on the city's Web site for the public to see it in its entirety.

Phil Hermanek can be reached at phillip.hermanek@peninsulaclarion.com.



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