Erosion issue tops list

Posted: Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The city of Kenai wasted little time in asking newly elected Gov. Sarah Palin to be included in the budget she submits to the Legislature for the coming year.

Saying Kenai River bluff erosion control has been the top priority of the city for the past 10 years, City Manager Rick Koch asked the governor for $2 million to help curb the problem.

In a letter to Palin, Koch said erosion along the edge of Old Town Kenai is negatively impacting the city at the rate of about $1 million per year.

The problem also nabbed the number-one ranking on the city’s Capital Improvements Plan priority list for fiscal year 2008, approved by the city council Dec. 20.

As described on the CIP list, the rate of erosion is estimated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as being three feet per year, and the project description states “several hundred feet of the original town site have been lost over the last century.”

Besides the loss of personal and public property, utilities, roads and other improvements, Koch said in his letter to the governor, “Wildlife habitat is being lost, including large trees overlooking the Kenai River where eagles perch while they are fishing.”

During last week’s city council meeting, resident Susan Morrison said she was disappointed the public library expansion project did not make the priority list, and before voting to approve the list, council member Rick Ross pointed out the library is not to be on the list until bids are out and revenue bonds for that project are approved.

Other projects on the list include paving and improving gravel roads within the city limits, improving the ventilation system for the ConocoPhillips-city of Kenai Multipurpose Facility, building new office space at the Kenai Senior Citizens Center and improvements to the heating and cooling system at city hall.

In a description of the multipurpose facility project, the need for improving the ventilation system arose following the nearly total enclosure of the ice rink. Because of inadequate ventilation, condensation now rains down from the ceiling following ice resurfacing.

The council also added widening the Kenai Spur Highway to five lanes all the way from Kenai to Soldotna to the city’s CIP list. Council member Joe Moore recommended the city request $10 million for the highway improvement.

Koch also reported to the council that he hopes to have a proposed purchase agreement between the city and Wal-Mart ready for the council’s review at its next meeting. Wal-Mart plans to build a grocery and retail store behind Kenai Chrysler Center.

Council member Barry Eldridge reported the Parks and Recreation Commission discussed acquiring lots for the expansion of the city cemetery.

In other business, the council:

n Directed the city administration to continue the McCollum Road-Aliak Drive-Japonski Avenue street improvement project; and

n Amended the city code, allowing council members to participate in city council meetings telephonically, to require the member to pay for shipping of meeting materials to him or her.

Phil Hermanek can be reached at phillip.hermanek

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