The Kenai City Council took the next step toward someday building a sea wall and coastal trail by approving a $70,000 expenditure for further study.
Most of the money, $62,000, will go toward a contract with the engineering firm of Peratrovich, Nottingham and Drage Inc., to address state and federal agency concerns over the project and to prepare permit applications.
"What exactly are we going to get for $62,000?" asked council member Jim Bookey at Wednes-day's meeting.
"Environmental concerns need addressing, and we need to try to satisfy those issues to get the Corps on board for when we next meet with our congressional delegation," said City Manager Rick Ross.
Earlier this year, requests for funding support were turned down by members of Alaska's delegation in Washington, D.C., because of concerns that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had not signed off on the project.
The city also needs to get agencies such as the state departments of Environmental Conservation and Fish and Game to support the project, if it is to see smooth sailing into the next phase, which is funding.
The sea wall, topped by a coastal trail, would run from Pacific Star Seafoods west to the mouth of the river. The trail will be 12 feet wide and include at least two handicapped-accessible ramps and two or three staircases to the top of the bluff. The trail will be about 33 feet above the average low water mark, atop 2,500-pound boulders called armor rock, which will try to stem any future erosion of the bluff from wave action.
The bluff itself will be re-sloped, terraced and planted with grass, trees and shrubbery to help prevent runoff from eroding it more. The wall, projected to cost up to $10 million, could protect twice that much in property value atop the bluff.
A year ago, the city commissioned a preliminary study from P-N-and-D, at a cost of $50,000.
City Public Works Director Keith Kornelis predicted the current study should last about six months, at which point, government agencies should be on board and the project should be at the permitting stage.
In other council news:
n The city bought two Crown Victoria police squad cars from Seekins Ford in Soldotna for $47,800. It was the only responsive bid the city received. The only other such vehicle made in America is the Chevrolet Impala, a smaller car. Chrysler makes a police vehicle, the Jeep Cherokee, but it does not meet the city's bid specifications, which call for a full-sized, four-door sedan.
n On a 6-1 vote, with council member Duane Bannock dissenting, the council approved the purchase of a multi-media projector for the Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center. The center is owned by the city but is operated by the Kenai Visitors and Convention Bureau. It has been without a projector for about six months.
n The council voted unanimously to continue its support of the Peninsula Winter Games with a $500 donation to sponsor the ceremonial start of the Tustumena 200 Sled Dog Race.
The next council meeting is scheduled for Dec. 6.
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