Kenai receives good news: Proposed state budget includes $8 million for city

Posted: Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The governor's proposed state budget for next year has some good news for Kenai -- $8 million worth of good news, in fact.

At tonight's city council meeting, Kenai City Manager Rick Koch is expected to spell out the capital project funding that will head Kenai's way if Gov. Sarah Palin's budget is approved by the Legislature.

"I am really grateful to Gov. Palin and the director of (Office of Management and Budget), Karen Rehfeld, for including $5 million for bluff erosion and $2.78 million for water," Koch said Tuesday.

In Palin's proposed budget, announced Monday, she listed $5 million for the Kenai River bluff erosion project; $2,132,100 for Kenai water transmission mains and a well house; and $648,945 for Kenai water treatment plant upgrades.

The Kenai total would be $7,781,045.

Coupled with $2 million in bonds Kenai voters authorized to be issued for the $20 million bluff erosion project, the $5 million represents the remainder of the 35 percent local funding required for the project to be considered under federal economic stimulus programs.

Koch also plans to report good news with regard to Kenai's ongoing quest for clear drinking water that meets stricter U.S. Environmental Protection Agency arsenic standards.

In a new well the city drilled at 2nd Avenue and Spruce Street, arsenic levels were found to be less than one part per billion and the water has better color than water from other Kenai sources, according to Koch. New EPA standards require city water to have no more than 10 ppb of arsenic.

Koch said that new well also appears to be a high producing well, and it will be proved out during the next 30 days.

Drilled to 518 feet, the well entered the aquifer at 445 feet. Koch said the well will be developed with 40 feet of screen to determine a production rate.

The council will be asked tonight to authorize the city manager to enter a five-year contract with Linda and Roger Petrey to operate the Kenai Municipal Airport restaurant.

The Petreys plan to open the eatery on or about Jan. 1, as "PJ's." The restaurant has been closed since the end of October.

Koch also will be presenting a memorandum of agreement with the state Department of Transportation and Public Facilities for approval allowing the city to complete construction of Baron Park Lane to the intersection with the Homer Electric Association access road and paving the HEA access road to Marathon Road.

Lowe's Home Improvement Centers has already built part of Baron Park Lane running from Airport Way to the back side of the new store.

Once complete, the new HEA access road-Baron Park Lane route will provide an alternate to traffic wishing to travel east on the Kenai Spur Highway from the proposed Wal-Mart super store, should the median on the highway be extended to allow only right turn in and right turn out traffic to and from Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart patrons would be able to turn right on the highway, right again onto Marathon Road, then left on HEA access, left on Baron Park Lane, left on Airport Way and left onto eastbound Kenai Spur Highway.

The memorandum of agreement would allow the city to head up the roads project, according to Koch.

The city council also is slated to discuss forming a Kenai salmon task force to gather information from all sectors of the fishing industry for use in policy making decisions.

The council meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.

Phil Hermanek can be reached at phillip.hermanek@peninsulaclarion.com.



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