Public park plan ready

Council to see Soldotna Creek Park final draft

Posted: Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The subject of a fair amount of debate, the conceptual redesign of Soldotna Creek Park, will be presented in its final form to the city council during a work session at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Assuming a proposed land swap is successful, the final design includes additional parking at the north end of the park, according to landscape architect Nancy Casey, proprietor of Casey Planning and Design.

The plan incorporates an entry plaza square, a large pavilion and flag poles with veterans memorials either at the square or straight ahead as people enter the park from the Sterling Highway, Casey said.

Two week ago, Soldotna area veterans expressed displeasure when they saw no mention of a veterans memorial on Casey's three design concepts unveiled at Soldotna City Hall.

On Monday, Casey said, despite much opposition at the first public meeting, the veterans memorial remained a topic of discussion and should have been included in at least one of the alternatives.

The plaza square, as described by Casey at the earlier meeting, would be built in the area of the current Soldotna Creek Park parking lot and would include walking areas, park benches and trees, creating a central focal point for the park and connecting the current picnic area with the open grassy area.

Other features of the final design include bike racks, landscape trees and topography elements, Casey said.

In addition to a good deal of description itemizing the public's preferences, she said the final design will include the main entrance off the Sterling Highway as well as an entrance at Birch Street; a small parking lot at the west end of the park, which would probably come in phase three of the development; ice skating planned for one of the lawn areas; a possible stairway down to the Kenai River from the west end of the park; and possibly a smaller pavilion also in phase three.

Considering the bigger picture, Casey said the design also would include lighted foot paths, more access to the river and possibly egress to the park from Pioneer Street at the east end of the park.

During the public input meeting in late October, she said from all the input received so far, everyone is in agreement that the expanded park should include permanent restroom facilities, have more parking space and a large structure such as a covered stage or pavilion for large community events.

"A lot of people like the idea of using this in winter," she said.

After Casey presents her final design to the city at the work session, she said her contract with the city will end.

"Then it will go out for further design development," she said, adding that her firm most likely will bid on the next aspect of the planning process.

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