The Kenai city council approved another small step forward for the city’s long awaited bluff stabilization project at its meeting Wednesday. The council approved spending $1 million in support of the pre-construction engineering and design phase of the project.
“The fact is, if we didn’t do this, we’d probably get another decade older waiting for the design to happen," said council member Henry Knackstedt.
"In which case the funds we have would diminish, if we even have them any longer. The cost of the project goes up. The cost of the design, we’ve got a grant for that. (This) makes so much sense to move ahead. There’s more funds, I understand, for construction than for design. We’re going to get to that point a whole lot (sooner) and we won’t be a decade older.”
Erosion has chipped away at the bluff for decades, and continues to threaten both private and city property. Council member Robert Peterkin was happy for some progress, but lamented the money wouldn’t be going directly into materials to stabilize the bluff.
“It’s too bad it can’t be going to dirt or rock, but we have to go through this bureaucratic process and spend all this money on studies, but we have to to move forward. I’m in favor of it.”
A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers decision regarding the next step for the project is expected this month.
Also finding favor with the council was a plan to add a dedicated multi-use path along Beaver Loop Road, connecting the Spur highway and Bridge Access Road. That project could happen by way of a state DOT grant that would need support from the city.
Design and cost estimates are still very preliminary, but based on a similar proposal from 2006, the total might be somewhere in the $800,000 neighborhood. The grant dictates the city would be responsible for nine percent of the cost. But council member Jim Glendenning said if it’s going to happen, it may as well be done right the first time.
“My preference, my suggestion, would be just go full-tilt boogie. Go for the safest, best approach, that way you don’t have to revisit it again. We want our biking community to be safe and have even expectations throughout their journey on this trail.”
The council approved a resolution in support of the project. If the grant comes through, a separate ordinance will have to be introduced appropriating the city’s share of the cost.