Skaters will have the pleasure of professionally groomed ice at the Kenai rink this winter after all. The city council approved a contract with DR Ice of Soldotna for the amount of $65,539 to resurface the ice and maintain the new refrigeration system.
Earlier this month, the council balked at paying the company, owned by Dale Hedger and Russ Milstein, $85,000 to do the work. The city originally had budgeted $40,000.
But after two weeks of examination, the city administration came up with several other options for the council to consider.
"We have invested a lot of money on this thing," said council member Joe Moore, who has pushed for the rink for years. "We don't need a rink like this and not take care of it."
Council member Duane Ban-nock asked city manager Linda Snow if there was room for adjusting the contract up or down if the actual amount of work was different than that projected. Snow indicated that would be in the contract.
There was little other discussion about the maintenance costs, and the council voted 5-0 to approve the bid. Council members Pat Porter and Amy Jackman were absent.
Ice rental at the rink will defray an estimated $50,000 of the $65,539 annual cost. The contract calls for DR Ice to staff the rink 12 hours a day between Monday and Friday and 16 hours on both Saturday and Sunday.
The council voted earlier this year to go to refrigerated ice because of the unseasonably warm winter last year. Ironically, with the colder temperatures this winter, the rink could have been up and running for two months already if it weren't refrigerated. The system is almost completely installed and will most likely go online next week.
Moore, anxious to have skatable ice, joked he would be happy to haul 5-gallon buckets of water to the rink to fill it up in the meantime.
In other news from Wednesday's council meeting:
Three Boy Scouts from Troop 357 of Kenai attended the meeting to learn about city government. The three, Rocky Ward, Tony Bannock and Brian Percival, are working on their Citizenship in the Community merit badge. Tony's father is council member Duane Bannock, who has said in the past that his interest in government service came about when he attended a Kenai City Council meeting while working for the same merit badge when he was a youth in Troop 357.
The council voted down an administration suggestion to do away with the requirement that public hearing notifications be sent by certified mail. The administration pointed out it has received many complaints from citizens who dislike having to make a special trip to the post office to pick up the certified mail.
The city is required by code to notify any property owner within 300 feet of a property that will be the subject of a public hearing dealing with conditional-use permits or other zoning issues.
"This is not justifiable," said council member Jim Bookey. "People will be unhappy if they don't get (a notification)."
Snow said the state does not require cities to use certified mail, and no other city in the Kenai Peninsula Borough uses it. The city spent about $1,100 through October this year on certified mailings.
The final vote was 3-2, with Bookey and Bannock voting no. Without four yes votes, the measure failed.
The council also turned down an ordinance that would have raised the fee from $100 to $200 to file an application for a variance, encroachment or conditional-use permit.
Last year, it cost $3,615 to advertise for the public hearings associated with such procedures, though the city only received $1,700 in fees, meaning it absorbed the other $1,915.
"We just subsidized $25,000," Bookey said of the ice maintenance contract. "I'd like to say 'no' to some of the bigger things than the $1,900 things. We can absorb these costs."
All but council member Linda Swarner agreed, and the council voted 1-4 to defeat the measure.
The council appropriated $20,000 more for additional work on getting the Kenai coastal trail and sea wall through the permitting stage. The Anchorage firm of Peratrovich, Nottingham and Drage needs the extra money to do additional studies associated with the permitting process.
The city and PND are working on addressing the concerns of several state agencies who feel the sea wall might damage fish habitat. Mayor John Williams said the $20,000 can be appropriated against the $500,000 the city will receive from the federal government for permitting and design work.
City land on Marathon Road was donated to the state of Alaska for construction of the Youth Detention Facility. Earlier this year, the city bought the land from its airport land account for the amount of $325,000. Bids for construction of the facility will be opened Dec. 6.
The street commonly known as North Strawberry Road was officially named that by the council. Though the street sign calls it that, it was officially 81st Avenue Northeast.
The council appropriated $20,000 to demolish four dangerous buildings in the city. The buildings have all been designated as public nuisances. The mayor asked if they could be burned down by the fire department as training exercises, but Fire Chief Scott Walden said it was quite an involved process to do that anymore. He said the department would have to go in and remove the roof shingles, all the wiring and test for asbestos before they could burn it.
The liquor license renewals for the Eagles Aerie No. 3525 and the Kenai Golf Course Cafe were approved by the council.
John "Ozzie" Osborne was appointed to the city's Planning and Zoning Commission, replacing Mike Morse, who resigned Nov. 14 to move out of state. Osborne served two terms on the commission in the mid- and late 1980s.
New airport tie-down fees were approved, all of them reductions over the past, in an effort to attract more long-term tenants.
At $420, the new tie-downs with electricity are less costly per year than the yearly cost was without electricity before. Now both paved and gravel tie-downs are $360 per year.
"That's just what I like to hear," said Bookey.
Williams said he would like to ask the Federal Aviation Admin-istration for permission to use airport funds to conduct a feasibility study for a hotel and convention center on former FAA land on the bluff near the Kenai Senior Center. He said he would like to request $25,000 for the study.
Bids from those interested in operating the restaurant at the Kenai Municipal Airport terminal will be opened today. The owners of Wings Cafe will be moving out Dec. 11, three weeks earlier than expected. It's hoped a new tenant can be up and running by the new year. Swarner was concerned the cafe will be vacant for three weeks during the holiday travel season.
The next regular city council meeting is Dec. 5.
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