Just a week before Christmas and the Kenai City Council Wednesday night approved its own wish list of projects for state funding.
As has been practice for many years, $5 million for the Kenai bluff stabilization project was at the top of the list, but with so much uncertainty already in next year’s legislative budget process, the city’s list includes some lower-dollar items — just in case.
“Including projects from other projects that have been identified within the city that are high priority but all the way down to smaller projects that are things that are needed in the city, that if a smaller capital budget is proposed by the legislature that that they have the opportunity to find projects really within a large range of capital dollars,” said City Manager Paul Ostrander. “So up from the $15,000 in library shelving, all the way up to the request for the bluff of 5 million.”
Item number two on the list is for $290,000 to reconstruct Wildwood Drive. The road is on Kenai Native Association land, and council members and the mayor were curious about requesting that money and doing that work without ownership and control of it.
“We still don't have a solution in front of us as far as ownership of that. The funding request here is really intended to improve just the existing road. So I think we feel comfortable that we can improve the existing road without clarifying the ownership issue” he said. “Where we run into problems if we wanted to do a substantial improvement, including storm drain infrastructure, potential improvements to water and sewer and significant drainage improvements that extend beyond the existing prism of the road and existing ditches of the road. That's when the ownership becomes a significant issue.”
Councilman Robert Peterkin suggested an ally might be found in the state, which owns and runs the prison at the end of the half-mile road.
“I would think that the state would want that road fixed as bad as we do. They got to be driving down it probably as much as we are. So I don't understand why there wouldn't be some kind of concerted effort to do it,” Peterkin said “But I, you know, I don't know who we're communicating with that end of things but it probably be good to lobby that a little bit and help get some people at the state on board along with us.”
Ostrander said the city has been in contact with the Department of Corrections on the matter.
Improving and paving various gravel roads in the city was the third item on the CIP list, followed by an energy efficiency upgrade to air blowers at the wastewater treatment plant. Item five requests three-quarters of a million dollars to replace or repair the aging infrastructure of the city’s recreation center. Numbers six and seven deal with base station and mobile radio equipment, and there are requests for new playground equipment on the green strip park, and items for the dip net fishery and boat ramp.
The two most modest items on the list are numbers 11 and 12, which ask for $38,000 and $15,000 for a fresh-food greenhouse at the Kenai Senior Center and permanent shelving for the children’s room in the public library, respectively.