Old Soldotna post office gets national designation

Posted: Friday, October 10, 2008

Not having its first permanent residents until 1947 when returning World War II soldiers began homesteading, Soldotna does not have a very long history.

Photo By M. Scott Moon
Photo By M. Scott Moon
Soldotna's first post office, has been added to the national register of historic places.

On Wednesday, however, city council members learned Soldotna now has its first officially designated building on the national register of historic places.

Soldotna Historical Society's Barbara Jewell told the council the city's first post office -- the restored two-story cabin near Soldotna Elementary School -- has been listed in the register as of Sept. 17.

When asked by Mayor Dave Carey if the city will be required to relinquish any control of the building due to the listing, Jewell said, "The (Kenai Peninsula) Borough owns the land and we own the building."

The council also learned of plans by Kenai Peninsula Housing Initiatives to develop 10 units of affordable housing in Soldotna.

The non-profit community housing development organization has asked for the council's support of a grant request it will be submitting to the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation in November.

Dubbed Hillcrest Manor, the housing development will consist of three- and four-bedroom townhouse style rental apartments on 1.35 acres KPHI owns directly across from Soldotna High School.

In a letter to the council from KPHI's special projects coordinator, Jenny Carroll, she states: "The lot has been reviewed and approved for development of a multifamily project and dialog has been ongoing with neighboring properties."

City Manager Larry Semmens reminded the council that, as a non-profit entity, KPHI's housing project would not be subject to property tax.

Councilman Shane Horan suggested the organization's executive director be invited to make a presentation to the council.

KPHI also developed the adjacent CrestView housing facility which Councilman Peter Micciche said "significantly impacted the neighbors when it was built."

At the urging of Mayor Carey, the council agreed to take up the matter during a Committee of the Whole meeting prior to the Oct. 22 council meeting.

In other business, the council unanimously approved appropriating a $178,000 state grant for public road, water and sewer improvements.

City Manager Larry Semmens said the money would be used to pay remaining expenses related to the Well C-2 water line tie-in project and the Kalifornsky Beach Road water main extension project.

Semmens also told the council the deadline is nearing for the city to submit a capital improvement funding priority list to the borough for forwarding to the state Legislature. He said the council would need to discuss the priorities at its Committee of the Whole meeting in two weeks.

Semmens said after receiving a number of contacts from one Soldotna resident with regard to a disabled veterans exemption on property tax, he has found the city exempts up to $300,000 in value of a disabled veteran's home while the borough exempts the entire amount outside the cities.

If the city council wants to change its exemption ceiling, Semmens said he would need to bring a new ordinance to the council for its OK. No action was taken on the issue.

In discussing the planned municipal library expansion with consulting engineers, Semmens said it has been determined that an expanded library also will require an expanded parking lot.

"Adjacent land is available, but it is expensive," he said.

Additionally, Semmens said he will have a resolution to the council at its next meeting with regard to the city's new Comprehensive Plan.

City Clerk Teresa Fahning told council members the election Canvass Board will review absentee and questioned ballots today and the board's report will appear on the council's Oct. 22 meeting agenda for certification. Newly elected council members will take office the following Monday.

Because Councilman Micciche was elected mayor of Soldotna Tuesday, the council will have until 30 days following the next council meeting to appoint a replacement for him until someone can be elected during the next municipal election. At that time, a council person will be elected to serve the remaining one year of Micciche's unexpired term.

Because Micciche does not replace Carey as mayor until Oct. 27, and Carey is to take office as borough mayor Oct. 20, he will be mayor of both local government bodies for one week. He said he did not anticipate a problem.

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

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