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Soldotna council OKs land purchase

Posted: Friday, October 16, 2009

The Soldotna City Council bought a piece of land Wednesday and said goodbye to some long-serving members.

The council approved an ordinance authorizing the purchase of a parcel in the Mooring Estates subdivision for $68,000. The city initially sought to purchase the property as one of six parcels included in the Knight Drive cemetery location. The council and city administration acknowledged that with the recent election results, the location of a cemetery is likely to change, but City Manager Larry Semmens recommended the council proceed with the purchase.

Semmens gave the council a number of reasons to purchase the land. While the city is not in the habit of buying property without an intended purpose, Semmens said, in the event the West Redoubt site does not work out, the city would then have this parcel in hand if the Knight Drive location were to be reconsidered. He said the negotiated price was a good one for the parcel, and represents a much better investment than losing the $5,000 in earnest money, which would be forfeited to the owner, Aleutian-Pribilof Islands Association, should the city walk away from the deal.

Councilman Ed Sleater said there are other potential uses for the parcel. He pointed out that the parcel is in a high-density neighborhood which currently does not have a neighborhood park.

"I'm in favor of purchasing it so that at some future date, it can be developed into a park. ... This would be a good place to have a park," Sleater said.

The ordinance passed unanimously.

The council certified the results of the Oct. 6 municipal election, also with a unanimous vote, and authorized Semmens to execute a contract with Peninsula Construction Inc. for renovation of Well House C.

Semmens asked for a change in the language, from simply awarding the project to giving the city manager authorization to execute a contract, because the city plans to use federal stimulus funds for the project. To receive funding, a number of requirements must be met. Semmens said he wants to ensure they met are before signing a contract, something the change would allow him to do.

The council also said goodbye to four members. Jim Stogsdill, Scott McLane and Eugene Fowler lost their bids for re-election, while Betty Obendorf did not run for another term.

Stogsdill has been on the council for 16 years; McLane for 13. Obendorf was elected in 2006, and Fowler was appointed in July to fill the seat vacated by Shane Horan.

Soldotna Mayor Peter Micciche said Fowler may have the distinction of being the shortest-serving council member in Soldotna's history, "but it's not a skill issue."

"I appreciate the opportunity," Fowler said of his time on the council.

Obendorf also said she was grateful for the opportunity to serve, and thanked the city staff for its hard work.

"I'm going to continue to follow the comprehensive plan, I'm interested in that, so I'll be around," Obendorf said.

McLane said he's appreciated the opportunity to serve as well, and wished the best of luck to incoming council members.

Stogsdill said he's had an interesting 16 years as a council member.

"We've done a lot of things, and heard a lot of arguments about why we shouldn't have done a lot of things," Stogsdill said. "It's been a privilege to sit here and help guide the city."

New council members Nels Anderson, Dale Bagley, Brenda Hartman and Peggy Mullen will be sworn in at the council's next meeting, Oct. 24. The Committee of the Whole will meet at 5:30 p.m. Swearing in will be at 6:15, and the regular council meeting begins at 6:30 p.m.

Will Morrow can be reached at will.morrow@peninsulaclarion.com.



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