Borough settles Nikiski land-use controversy

Posted: Wednesday, October 17, 2001

There's more than one way the public wants to access land owned by the Kenai Peninsula Borough. A 10-acre Nikiski parcel, valued at $88,000 and scheduled for public auction this Saturday is a prime example.

When the parcel was surveyed in preparation for the upcoming auction, it was discovered that approximately 300 feet of an established trails network cut across the land in question.

"The (borough) surveyor came out to do the preliminary survey, and when he staked the corners he saw that there might be a bit of a problem," said Dale Bakk, of Nikiski, who is on the borough's trails commission and is the cross-country ski coach at Nikiski High School.

"Starting at one corner, (the trail) runs right inside the property line anywhere from 10 to possibly as much as 40 feet," Bakk said.

Joe Arness, a member of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education, helped stake the trails in 1990.

"Nobody really knew that the 10 acres was being put up for sale," Arness said. "We all knew because it was advertised, but no one recognized the legal description as being that piece of property."

After hearing about the situation, trail users came out in force.

"There was a surprising number of people that were very concerned about losing even a part of the trails," Bakk said.

After concerned citizens put their heads together with elected officials and borough administration, they hit upon "a compromise that will make everybody happy," Bakk said.

Borough Mayor Dale Bagley said the parcel will be pulled from Saturday's auction and will be divided in half.

"The half on the side with ski trails will go to the school district," Bagley said. "The other half, I assume, will go on the market next year. ... This works out fine. Everybody I've talked to is ecstatic with the solution."

Gary Superman, newly elected to represent Nikiski on the borough assembly, agreed, calling the solution one that "appeals to everybody."

Former trails commissioner Pete Sprague, who represents Soldotna on the assembly, also joined the problem-solving effort.

"It's good to see the cooperation," Sprague said. "I'm pleased with the way the administration is handling it."

Arness said the action taken by borough administration, and particularly Mayor Bagley, "was more than I felt was reasonable to expect them to do."

Bakk said he was "heartened" by the public's concern to maintain the trail.

He also was pleased with the process used to problem-solve the situation.

"I've seen this happen before with the trails commission where it just takes a little bit of talking back and forth and coming to an agreement on a simple solution," he said. "You can fix quite a few seemingly big problems with just a little communication."



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