Much of the election season attention has been focused on borough-wide issues and candidates. But the Kenai city council has a competitive race with three candidates vying for two seats. Henry Knackstedt is looking to return for a second term on the council.
The hot-button issues recently settled in Soldotna and yet to be settled in the borough don’t really seem to have taken root this year in Kenai’s elections. For Henry Knackstedt, one of the big priorities over the next three years is actually a project that’s been simmering away for decades: bluff erosion.
“It will open up a central core in the city of Kenai to development and I think that’s desirable to most of the public, including myself.”
He says development of airport lands alongside that project is also important as a means of spreading development out a little bit, instead of concentrating everything along the highway corridor.
“Most of the commercial development we’ve seen has been along those areas. And back to the bluff erosion, that would bring some of those businesses or some businesses back to what is the original core at least, of the city of Kenai.”
Knackstedt has previously served on the city’s planning and zoning commission, and he says the work being done there has been geared toward developing that highway corridor but in a way that doesn’t just make room for big, commercial operations.
“I think what our challenge is is to encourage the right type of the development. Most of the lots that are out there and available are smaller, and I could see where there could be a transition-type business, that looks more residential, transistions into the neighborhoods behind. I think that’s something our planning and zoning and our zoning code has been working on and I think it’s been pretty successful so far.”
Over the next three years, he says development is important, but so are finances. The city is in a good spot right now, but all eyes are on Juneau and what actions there will mean for the city.
“What that boils down to in the questionable fiscal situation the state is in, and we’re part of it, is maintaining the quality of life and the mill rate as it is, and it does take some planning.”
He says he would like to see the city capitalize more on the dipnet fishery as a source of new revenues. Targeting those visitors could help make up for a dip in sales taxes the city collects as a result of a contracting oil and gas industry. Knackstedt is on the ballot against another incumbent, Tim Navarre and Bob McIntosh, who ran for council unsuccessfully last year.