No 55, 35 stays

Council nixes long leases at airport

Posted: Monday, October 08, 2007

Economic development took a small step backward in Kenai last week as council members failed to extend commercial lease terms on city-owned property within the airport reserve from 35 to 55 years.

Possibly the most debated proposal in the city council chambers this year, the measure was seen by proponents as a key to attracting high-priced development to Kenai Municipal Airport, saying potential tenants would be reluctant to invest $1 million to build a building if their lease term was anything less than 55 years. Opponents said it tied up city land too long, possibly allowing a lessee to hold the property for speculation purposes.

Approved by the city council last spring, the measure was approved for reconsideration June 6, postponed to July 18, postponed again to Aug. 15 and once again until Wednesday.

During the postponements, the proposal bounced back and forth between the council and the city's Airport Commission, which offered substitutes to a proposed ordinance.

In the end, substitute A, substitute B and Ordinance 2230-2007 failed to get the approval of the council.

In other business, the council approved a transfer of $40,000 in the runway safety area improvement capital project fund for engineering to cover additional work at the airport including a number of electrical runway control items.

The council also introduced ordinances on its consent agenda to appropriate $150,000 to build a public safety garage for police cars; $888,562 for roadway paving projects; $592,541 to rebuild 2,500 lineal feet of Wildwood Drive; and $1,150,139 for the realignment of Marathon Drive. The ordinances are slated to be considered for adoption at the Oct. 17 council meeting.

The enclosed, heated public safety garage would actually replace the carport used by the Kenai Police Department on the southwest side of the police station, eliminating the need to keep police cars outside and idling during periods of cold weather.

The $888,000 for roadway paving comes to the city in the form of a state grant, which does not require a matching amount from the city. City Manager Rick Koch said earlier no specific road projects have been listed for repaving under the grant.

The Wildwood Drive reconstruction involves demolishing and replacing 2,500 feet of asphalt roadway and rebuilding a sewer collector and making related improvements including manholes, tie-ins to existing lift stations and improvements to the existing lift station.

The work on Marathon Road, some of which is in anticipation of the new Wal-Mart and Lowe's stores opening, includes building a new connecting road between Marathon and Airport Way, taking 2,000 feet of road from gravel to paved, rebuilding 1,600 feet of Willow Street and extending water and sewer lines along Marathon Road.

During the city attorney's report, Cary Graves announced the city would be attaching traffic fines to some people's Alaska Permanent Fund dividends to collect fines that had not already been paid.

Phil Hermanek can be reached at

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