Council, Corps to talk erosion

Army Corps of Engineers calls for meeting on saving Kenai bluff

Posted: Monday, December 10, 2007

The Army wants to meet with Kenai city officials this week to go over design alternatives for curbing erosion along the Kenai River bluff.

City Manager Rick Koch told the Kenai City Council the Army Corps of Engineers scheduled a meeting from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday at the Cook Inlet Aquaculture building on Kalifornsky Beach Road to discuss the project.

Koch in turn invited the Corps to a special work session with council members from 6:30 to 8 p.m. that same evening in the city hall council chambers.

Much more than just building a sea wall to stop Cook Inlet waves from crashing ashore, the bluff stabilization project entails studies of sediment transport, hydrology, bird and fish use, environmental impacts of wave reflection on wetlands, aging characteristics of the river and other concerns.

Additional studies will focus more on cost versus benefits and give consideration to any real estate purchase, easements, potential removal of existing structures and placement of a trail along the top of the bluff.

Koch also informed council members on Wednesday of a public meeting planned for 6:30 p.m. Dec. 20 in the council chambers to meet with Thompson Park Subdivision property owners about a proposal to pave their streets.

The residents have been contacted by the city to determine if a majority supports forming a Limited Improvement District to pave the roadways and make related improvements.

If an LID is approved, owners would be assessed $2,993 per lot, payable over five years at 10 percent annual interest. The project is estimated to cost $880,000, Koch said. The 147 property owners would split the cost 50-50 with the city.

Following much back-and-forth debate between Soldotna pawnbroker Norm Blakeley and the council, action on an ordinance establishing pawnbroker regulations in Kenai was postponed.

Kenai no longer has a pawn shop. Blakeley did not go so far as to say he is interested in opening one in the city.

What he did want to know is why the city is choosing to closely regulate pawn shops, including their hours of operation, when other types of businesses are not so strictly regulated.

"You're asking for the name, address and military serial number of driver's license number (of the customer), and a physical description of the customer," Blakeley said. "Are you going to require jewelry shops, coin shops and secondhand stores to answer these questions, or only pawn shops?" he asked.

The proposed regulations state that every person employed by a pawnbroker must be 18 years old or older.

Blakeley said he has a capable 16-year-old helper at his Soldotna shop, and questioned the requirement.

Inferring from the proposed ordinance that many of the rules are aimed at deterring the receipt and sale of stolen property, Blakeley told the city council "yard sales in the (United States) are the number-one place where stolen items are sold."

"Are you gonna start regulating yard sales?" he asked rhetorically.

Kenai Police Chief Chuck Kopp said the ordinance "has a backdrop of 20 years of court (rulings) and law enforcement behind it."

He said it addresses a procedure where a dispute between the ownership of property can be resolved and he sees nothing in the ordinance going beyond reason.

"It's for the protection of our community as property owners, property holders," Kopp said.

Blakeley offered to sit down with the chief and go through the proposed regulations in detail, and the council voted unanimously to postpone action until February.

A $71,730 appropriation was approved by the council for repair of the Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center heating system.

Koch said the money has been received by the city as part of a class action settlement regarding defective tubing installed for radiant heat in the floor of the visitors center.

Kenai was listed as a claimant in the lawsuit over Entran 2 pipe manufactured by Goodyear. A separate group of claimants has incurred serious damage related to the defective tubing, and at the time of the suit, Kenai had not incurred that level of damage, Koch said.

"Now we're losing 30 gallons of water a day, the circulating pumps are failing and other components of the heating system are getting gummed up because of the deteriorating tubing," Koch said.

City Attorney Cary Graves said, "If we can get moved up to category 3 (claimants), we could receive $350,000 to $400,000."

He said repairs would need to be made beginning in January 2009 and lasting about three months.

Phil Hermanek can be reached at

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