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Soldotna donates $50 thousand to city's Little League

Soldotna City Hall in September 2023.
Riley Board
Soldotna City Hall in September 2023.

The City of Soldotna has approved a $50 thousand donation to Soldotna Little League so the organization can make improvements to its fields.

At its Wednesday meeting, the Soldotna City Council took up the ordinance to make a major donation to the organization, which operates at the baseball fields adjacent to the Soldotna Sports Complex.

Mayor Paul Whitney, who was absent from the meeting, sponsored the ordinance.

“The complex of fields has benefited our local youth for well over 30 years, and the Little League organization has done an excellent job in maintaining and expanding the field,” Vice Mayor Lisa Parker read from Whitney’s statement. “But like all things, some of the structures and equipment have reached the end of their useful life.”

Whitney said some areas of the complex have become a safety hazard, and two dugouts need to be replaced. He said the safety barriers on all of the fences have also deteriorated.

Parents, players and organizers turned out to the meeting in strong support.

“Many of the structures are well over 30 years old and have reached a point where repairing is no longer an option. Of the 25 wooden structures in our facility, 11 have been torn down in the last four years," Little League Board Member Keith Pieh testified. “Because we are responsible for building, operating and maintaining those facilities, we are here tonight to ask the city for financial help to get us through this first phase of replacing those structures necessary for our program.”

The popular ordinance received unanimous approval from the city council.

“I think almost every one of us, if we could, would vote a couple times yes,” said Council Member Dave Carey. “But we only get one yes.”

Vice Mayor Parker said she felt bad that the city had never given money to the organization before, and asked the Little League to come back to the council in the future about financial challenges. Council members thanked the group for funding and maintaining the facility, something that other cities, like Kenai, pay for themselves.

During the meeting, the council also approved a code change to expand baby changing tables in public city restrooms, and appropriated funds for airport improvements, the riverfront redevelopment project and a cybersecurity risk assessment.

The council’s next meeting is scheduled for April 24.

Riley Board is a Report For America participant and senior reporter at KDLL covering rural communities on the central Kenai Peninsula.
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