Southcentral Alaska's 20-plus hours of daylight in July don't lend themselves to the customary Fourth of July fireworks, so Kenai folks typically hold off until Christmas comes to town to feast their eyes on pyrotechnic displays filling the night sky.
Thanks in large part to the Kenai City Council, this year will be no exception.
According to Finance Director Terry Eubank, council members on Wednesday agreed to give the Kenai Chamber of Commerce a $3,500 assist -- one-half the $7,000 cost of putting on the fireworks display -- following the electric lights parade and tree lighting ceremony in Old Town Kenai.
The chamber has a full day of activities planned for Friday, beginning at 11:30 a.m. when Santa Claus arrives at the Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center for photo opportunities with children. The parade begins at 6 p.m., followed by a bonfire, tree lighting and fireworks.
Last year, the city council approved a "one-time," $3,250 assist with the fireworks expense.
In a written plea to the council this year, the chamber said the fireworks show is "an important element of the event and the cost to provide fireworks is rising year after year."
"The fireworks display at Christmas Comes to Kenai is the only annual display in Kenai and would be greatly missed if it were discontinued due to rising costs," the chamber request letter stated.
City council members apparently agreed.
In other business, the council approved the transfer of $631,469 to the visitor center heating system capital projects fund for replacing the center's heating system.
Depending on the receipt of bids and on the availability of funding, construction work to replace the heating system at the center is scheduled to start Jan. 1.
The city has been awarded $380,000 from a lawsuit against the manufacturer of in-floor radiant heat tubing that failed in the visitors center. That money is included in the $631,000 figure.
City Manager Rick Koch said earlier replacing the in-floor radiant heat system is cost prohibitive. The new system will be a heated-air system.
In consideration of exhibit materials, Koch said the new system will have a built-in humidifier.
The council also scheduled public hearings for Dec. 17 during the regular city council meeting on two street improvement special assessment districts.
Street improvements were completed this past summer and final assessment rolls were filed on Shamrock Circle, Thompson Park, Beaver Creek Alaska, Mack, Valhalla Heights and Sunset Rim subdivisions.
A work session of the council was scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Dec. 3 prior to the regular city council meeting, to view a presentation by the ECI-Hyer design firm on the proposed architectural design of the Kenai Community Library expansion.
Phil Hermanek can be reached at email@example.com.
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