Kenai delays land sale

Posted: Friday, December 23, 2005

Some members of the Kenai City Council again voiced opposition to a proposed sale of Kenai riverfront wetlands to The Conservation Fund, and the council once again postponed giving final approval to the transaction.

The city had been meeting separately with The Conservation Fund for a direct sale of five parcels of wetlands totaling more than 740 acres valued at more than $500,000.

Earlier this month, the council voted to sell parcels identified as numbers 1, 4, 5 and 6.

Parcel 1, contains 45 acres valued at $46,000; parcel 4 is 14 acres valued at $8,000; parcel 5 is 61 acres with a value of $27,500; and parcel 6 is 2 acres, valued at $1,000.

The largest parcel, parcel 2 contains 621 acres and carries an asking price of $475,000. It was pulled from the deal.

In a separate transaction, the city has been working with the land preservation group on a swap giving The Conservation Fund another parcel of wetlands in exchange for land the city wanted for adding an exit road from the city boat ramp.

“That transaction is at the title company on hold,” City Attorney Cary Graves told the council Wednesday.

“If (the sale) is passed, we would have both transactions completed at the same time,” Graves said.

On Dec. 7, Mayor Pat Porter and council members Rick Ross and Joe Moore voted against the sale, after Conservation Fund Director Brad Meiklejohn surprised the council by saying the previously agreed-upon land swap might be contingent on the sale.

On Wednesday, Moore attempted to amend the sale agreement to make it contingent upon the land swap deal.

Ross, however, moved to postpone the sale until Jan. 18. The council agreed.

In other business, the council unanimously voted to terminate leases of Kenai Municipal Airport apron properties with Baxter Snider and Kenai Aviation Services Inc., forgiving $4,609 in lease amounts owed to the city.

Interim City Manager Chuck Kopp said, “It is in the best interest of the city to take back the properties.”

He said the land, which has been cleared, but has no buildings on it, could be used for needed additional public parking for other businesses at the south end of the airport.

Over the objection of council member Linda Swarner, a resolution approving a supplement to the city’s airport master plan was postponed. The plan dictates lease and sale terms of airport lands.

Saying the supplemental plan “has very major implications,” Ross said a postponement would allow council members time to research the plan.

In a briefing letter from Airport Manager Rebecca Cronkhite to Kopp, she said the main discussion by the Airport Commission centered on the statement: “Lease land and facilities within the airport boundary ... at fair market value rates and limit the sale of land outside the airport reserve to preserve the future revenue-generating potential of the property.”

In other business:

· Mayor Porter told the council a probable date for a homecoming festival for returning Kenai military service members would be Feb. 4.

· Kopp announced that Kenai will host its first marathon, to be called the Kenai River Marathon, on the first Sunday in October.

· City Clerk Carol Freas said the state Division of Elections “is looking” to put a regional office in the Kenai Mall.

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