A proposal to convey 10 acres of wooded borough-owned land not far from Redoubt Elementary School to the city of Soldotna for a future cemetery will get a public hearing at the Jan. 3 meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly.
Soldotna would pay $1 for the land but could use it only for cemetery purposes, under terms outlined in Ordinance 2005-50.
In August, the assembly approved Ordinance 2005-26, a measure that proposed to exchange the borough’s 10-acre plot on West Redoubt Avenue for a 17-acre parcel along the Sterling Highway at Arc Lake owned by the city.
However, the city was unable to remove an encumbrance against the title of that land and could not convey it to the borough.
Assembly member Pete Sprague, of Soldotna, has sponsored the new ordinance that would give the 10 acres to the city for the nominal fee.
Soldotna would be responsible for surveying and platting the parcel, title insurance and any other closing costs.
Cemetery space is needed but the borough lacks the municipal power to operate a cemetery. Soldotna has the power.
Under the terms of the proposed ordinance, Soldotna would run the facility, probably through its public works department. Use of the cemetery would not be restricted to Soldotna residents, however. It also would be available to residents of other parts of the borough.
In proposing the nominal $1 fee, the ordinance notes that charging a fair-market price for the land, valued at $139,000, would leave no funds to establish and operate the cemetery.
If adopted, the ordinance would give Soldotna six months to accept the deal. It also would require that a cemetery be ready to operate within five years.
City ordinances aimed at creating a cemetery in Soldotna were rejected in 1991 and 1995. The 1995 Soldotna Comprehensive Plan noted the continuing discussion and the availability of city-owned land.
According to an August 2002 report issued by a city Cemetery Task Force Committee, Spruce Grove Cemetery at Kasilof was nearing capacity.
The report also forecast a conservative death rate of eight to 10 Soldotna residents per year initially, a rate that would increase over time, both as the natural result of a growing population and from the re-interment of loved ones buried elsewhere.
“The residents of Soldotna and the surrounding area deserve a final resting place near home,” the report stated.
Each acre of a properly planned cemetery would accommodate 750 burial plots, the report said.
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