The Kenai Peninsula Borough is offering residents a great opportunity to help shape the future of the borough. Residents should seize the moment.
An updated draft of the 2005 Comprehensive Plan is being presented in a series of meetings which began this week and run through Oct. 28, including one scheduled for 6:30 tonight at the borough assembly chambers and another one at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Nikiski Middle-High School Library. Meetings are being held in virtually every corner of the borough to involve as many residents as possible. The meetings are not just for residents of a particular community. If you are unable to attend the meeting being held in your neighborhood, you're invited to attend a meeting in another.
The plan should reflect the goals and objectives of borough residents. That means the more people who participate, the better the plan will be. If only a handful of people attend the meetings, officials will have a hard time knowing if their ideas and suggestions are representative of the whole community.
But the meetings aren't the only way residents can have their say. Lots of information about the plan and the process that has brought it to this point is available at the borough's Web site (www.borough.kenai.ak.us/). Just click on "Comprehensive Plan." There is a convenient "Comment Form" included on the site where residents can submit comments. Comments also can be faxed or mailed to the borough.
The point is: Let the borough hear from you.
Think of the comprehensive plan as a road map to the borough's future. What direction do you want the borough to take? Here's an opportunity to have your say.
Last updated in 1992, the plan is designed to provide the basis for policy decisions by the assembly and planning commission. It can be an important tool to help communities get grant funding for projects that are important to them. It identifies key issues that residents think the borough's decision-makers should address.
A phone survey conducted in January provides a taste of some key planning issues and what borough residents think about them. For example, the survey showed:
Residents overwhelmingly believe land regulation to protect private property rights and prevent land use conflicts in important.
Most residents identify industrial land use and gravel pits as areas needing stricter borough regulation.
Most residents support improved water quality monitoring, stricter regulation of land near rivers and streams and stricter flood plain development. However, most are unwilling to pay for it.
When it comes to the services the borough provides, most are willing to pay for improved fire and emergency services and expanded recycling services. Fewer than half, however, are willing to pay for other changes in borough services including improved garbage disposal or the addition of borough law enforcement for areas without city police.
When asked about several economic development initiatives, including vocational-technical training, support for small businesses, land development assistance and tourism marketing assistance, residents favored vocational-technical training.
The comprehensive plan is designed to address those kinds of issues and more. What's your issue? What would you like the borough to do about it?
Residents should not underestimate their voice in this process. Borough officials are actively seeking your participation. Take them up on their offer and help shape the future of this place you call home.
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