Kenai may turn trash to treasure

Council wants to use old landfill site north of town for new sports complex

Posted: Friday, October 22, 2004

Where once sat rolling fields of garbage may soon sit fields of play.

The Kenai City Council on Wednesday approved an ordinance that determined a large parcel of land known as "Section 36" is needed to serve a public purpose. The ordinance is the first step toward turning the land large vacant fields that sit atop the former borough landfill into a large outdoor sports complex featuring baseball diamonds, soccer fields, a BMX bicycle track and a skateboard park.

The city has been looking for a suitable use for the land for several years, and plans for the area are still in the preliminary stages. However, with the passage of the ordinance, the city can now begin doing design work and making plans for how to best use the land, which sits adjacent to the Kenai Spur Highway on the north end of town.

"I'm really excited to see this ordinance before the council," council member Joe Moore said during discussion of the issue.

The city's parks and recreation commission has already signed off on the plan to use the land as a location for a recreational complex.

Included in the ordinance passed Wednesday was a preliminary drawing of what the site might look like once construction is completed. The drawing shows an area that includes nine soccer fields, seven baseball diamonds, three parking lots, a dirt bicycle track and a skateboard park.

Kenai Parks and Recreation director Bob Frates said the plan is far from being final, and that the drawing is only one idea of how best to lay out the park.

"This is one of several draft plans we have worked on," Frates said.

The next step in the process will be for the city to come up with more concrete draft plans, hold hearings at the commission level, then bring a proposal back before the council.

However, passage of Wed-nesday's ordinance does allow the city to begin seriously looking into the idea of building the complex.

In other action Wednesday, the council:

n Held a discussion on how to fill a vacancy on the council. Because of Pat Porter's election as mayor, the council must now find a replacement to serve until the next regular election.

Council members said they would prefer to have a new council member seated as quickly as possible in order to move forward with a full number of members.

"I would like to see it filled as soon as possible, even if it involves a special meeting," council member Rick Ross said.

After agreeing that the seat should be filled by the next regular council meeting Nov. 3, the council decided to begin soliciting applications as soon as possible, and directed city clerk Carol Freas to begin advertising for the position immediately.

After holding a brief discussion on the matter, the council decided to set a deadline of noon Oct. 29 for anyone interested in serving on the council to submit a letter of interest and resume to the city. The council will hold a special meeting at 5 p.m. Nov. 3 to interview potential new members, and plans to select a council member at that time to begin serving at the regular meeting.

Freas said after the meeting that people wishing to serve on the council must have been a Kenai resident for at least a year and must be at least 21 years of age.

n Increased estimated revenues and appropriations by $150,000 in the Airport Land System Special Revenue Fund and the Parallel Taxiway Capital Project Fund for the purpose of getting work started on a planned taxiway renovation project. Airport Manager Rebecca Cronkhite said the taxiway work is needed in advance of a planned runway repaving project scheduled for 2006.

"We need to complete the taxiway in order to have an alternate runway for future runway resurfacing," she said.

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