Kenai City Council

For our second set of election 2021 interviews, we spoke with James Baisden, Deborah Sounart and Alex Douthit, three of the five candidates for Kenai City Council. There are two seats open on the council this election.

We spoke with the other two candidates, Jim Duffield and Victoria Askin, last week. You can listen to those interviews here and read more about all five candidates here.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Rewind several decades. Kenai’s waterfront was buzzing with business. 

“There’s always been a lot of activity down there," said John Williams, Kenai mayor from 1986 to 2004.

He said the cannery scene by the Kenai Dock has changed since then as the commercial fishing presence has declined. Now, there’s just one processor there. 

For our first set of election 2021 interviews, we spoke with Victoria Askin and Jim Duffield, two of the five candidates for Kenai City Council. There are two seats open on the council this election.

Later in the program, we talked to Sammy Crawford from the Central Peninsula League of Women Voters about why it’s so important to vote in local elections. She also remembered her own first time voting.

Photo: Sabine Poux/KDLL

Triumvirate Theatre might be moving to Kenai. The nonprofit is asking the city for a donation of two acres for a new building after its Nikiski theater burned down this February.

The Kenai City Council isn’t making a final decision on the parcel until next month. But at a meeting Wednesday night, council members were enthusiastic about the donation.

Redoubt Reporter

Fishermen will still drift net Upper Cook Inlet’s federal waters this summer. But it may be their last season there, after the body that manages the fishery moved to close it to commercial fishing late last year.

First, the amended plan has to be approved by the feds. NOAA Fisheries is now asking for public comment on the proposal through July.

City of Kenai

Robert Peterkin resigned from the Kenai City Council on Friday. The city is now soliciting applicants to fill his seat.

Peterkin declined to comment. According to a press release from the city, Peterkin said he was, “No longer able to devote his full attention to the position.”

The person who takes Peterkin’s place will serve the remainder of his term, approximately one year.

Kenai Mayor Brian Gabriel said the council is using past precedent, from a similar case in 2004, to outline the process of filling the seat. He said the city will be soliciting applicants and the council will hold a work session to vote on a candidate. 

City of Kenai

The Kenai City Council approved a resolution last night that has three main functions relating to COVID-19 relief.

The first involves doubling the aid that Kenai commercial fishermen can receive, from $1,000 to $2,000. Applications for that relief program are available on the city of Kenai website and close Oct. 30. Permit holders who live within Kenai and who had at least $10,000 in landings on their 2019 permits are eligible to apply.

Courtesy of Soldotna City Council

At their respective meetings earlier this month, local council and assembly members had very different conversations about the same joint resolution for preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Without any real muscle, the resolution encouraged — not mandated — that residents follow CDC guidelines, like mask wearing and social distancing. The mayors of Kenai, Soldotna and the borough sponsored the resolution to show a united commitment to coronavirus caution. Homer was later added to the group.

Ultimately, all three bodies passed the resolution. But the conversations were very different. 

 


The Kenai City Council held a hybrid, in-person and phone-in meeting Wednesday night. The first order of business was extending the city’s emergency declaration in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

City offices and facilities are closed for the time being but staff are still available over email and phone to assist the public.

The council also modified city code to be able to hold meetings more over the phone in the future. Existing code limited how many council and commission members could call in to establish a quorum. Meetings will still be held in a way that allows participation from the public but council and committee members will be participating from afar.

In other business, the council passed a resolution supporting Robert Ruffner for appointment to the Alaska Board of Fisheries. Ruffner is the retired executive director of the Kenai Watershed Forum.

City of Kenai

At its meeting Wednesday night, the Kenai City Council was eager to learn more about a potential sale of city property for infrastructure to house a hybrid airship — a kind of blimp with a large cargo and passenger capacity.

Ron Hyde, owner of the Cannery Lodge and PRL Logistics on Kenai’s south side, plans to use hybrid airships to supply oil and gas and mining operations around the state, based out of Kenai, and approached city administration with the desire to lease or purchase the land off Bowpicker Lane.

Kenai Council meets new PR firm

Oct 17, 2019

Members of the Kenai City Council got to meet its new professional community boosters last night at its regular meeting.
    Coy West of Divining Point, an Austin, Texas, marketing firm told the council the project to market the city is getting underway.
    “So the scope at this point is is I think being thoroughly defined. One of the things that we're looking forward to is really finding those qualities and characteristics about the city of Kenai that make it unique,” he said. “Not only to the Kenai Peninsula, but also Alaska and the greater U.S.”

Cannabis business hours lengthened in Kenai

Oct 4, 2019
KDLL

 

Nearly three years after the first retail cannabis store opened in Kenai, the city council is still working to tailor local rules to the local market.

 

 


Cannabis shop hours debate heats up in Kenai

Sep 19, 2019

       It won't be formally addressed until its next regular meeting, but last night the Kenai City Council heard from a couple cannabis store owners about proposed restrictions to hours of operation.

Ron Isaacs of The Gardens on the Spur Highway in Kenai was against any limiting of store hours beyond what the state requires. He pointed out that only the hours of marijuana stores in surrounding jurisdictions were considered when coming up with the proposed restrictions.

September is (art) harvest time

Sep 5, 2019
Kenai Fine Arts Center

          Today is First Thursday in the Central Kenai Peninsula, and it's the official kick-off of the Kenai Fine Arts Center's Harvest Art Auction.

Organizer Marion Nelson reminded the Kenai City Council of the event at Wednesday night's meeting.

"You have the silent auctions essentially on one side, one back wall and the outright auctions on the other side of the room," she said. "And for the silent auction item you can start bidding now, today, could have started."

Kenai exploring gravel pit reclaimation

Aug 15, 2019

Gravel underpins nearly every aspect of modern life — it’s in our roads, it’s in the foundations of our buildings, and perhaps, unfortunately, it’s in the gravel pit your neighbor wants to dig next door.

Regular meeting are held by the borough to address the lack of zoning in the unincorporated areas where gravel is extracted, but inside the city limits of Kenai, the planning and zoning commission wants to act on the potential eyesores left behind.

After months of hammering out a new contract with the Kenai Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center over operation of the Kenai Bicentennial Visitors Center, the Kenai City Council Wednesday night approved a separate one-year special use permit for the property the chamber's old headquarters sits is on, next to the visitor center.
    Known as the Moosemeat John Cabin, the building was the office of the chamber of commerce until it merged with the convention and visitors bureau in 2012 and moved into the visitors center. The chamber has owned the building since 1975.

After months of hammering out a new contract with the Kenai Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center over operation of the Kenai Bicentennial Visitors Center, the Kenai City Council Wednesday night approved a one-year conditional use permit for the propterty the chamber's old headquartrers is on, next to the visitor center.
Known as the Moose Meat John Cabin, the building was the office of the chamber of commerce  from 1977 until it merged with the convention and visitors bureau in 2012 and moved into the visitors center.
Kenai City Attorney Scott

Kenai Council rejects designated seats

Jul 9, 2019

There could be a couple of changes to how the City of Kenai handles its council elections, but they're minor compared to the change that failed at Wednesday night's meeting.

The changes that will be offered to voters to enact would no longer require candidates to have 20 signatures in order to file for office, and newly elected council members will be seated a week earlier.

The change that will not happen is the designation of specific seats for council members. They are currently elected at large.

The city of Kenai administration has started cracking down on the city’s homeless and transient population, though at least one city official is concerned enough about the actions that he has urged caution.

"You know, in my mind, some of their rights are violated." - Vice Mayor Tim Navarre

City Manager Paul Ostrander reported to the council that he and the police chief removed tons of stolen items left by homeless people in various wooded areas of the city.

Kenai bans on-site cannabis use

Jun 20, 2019

  The Kenai City Council last night bucked the emerging trend around the state and decided not to allow on-site consumption of cannabis products inside city limits. The vote was five to one on the ordinance to ban the practice outright after a motion to replace it with a two-year moratorium instead failed to get a second.

City councilmembers Jim Glendenning and Glenese Petty introduced the original.

Even though commercial cannabis sales have been legal in Alaska for a couple of years, the state’s position is still in conflict with federal law. That message was brought home by the U.S. Coast Guard at a recent Kenai City Council meeting.

Lt. Scott Peters told the council that the Coast Guard Auxiliary will be doing boating safety checks at the Kenai Dock duding low tide, while he and rangers from State Parks will be out on the Kenai River doing boating safety checks.

Bacteria again found on Kenai beach

Jun 10, 2019

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation has issued a warning about elevated bacteria levels on Kenai's North Beach at the mouth of the river. 

Samples taken last Tuesday showed elevated levels of enterococci (enter-oh-cockeye) bacteria and fecal coliform, exposure to which can cause stomach aches, diarrhea and ear, eye and skin infections.

The samples taken at Kenai North Beach contained 139 units per 100 milliliters of enterococci bacteria, almost four times higher than what is considered safe for direct contact, officials.

Council kicks cannabis consumption down the road

Jun 6, 2019

At last night's Kenai City Council meeting, the debate over on-site consumption of cannabis in stores stretched for an hour-plus, but eventually, the council voted to postpone the ordinance until the next council meeting. 

The ordinance would ban the practice, which was recently approved by the state. 

  At last night's Kenai City Council meeting, former Mayor Ron Malston was remembered. He passed away late last month at the age of 85. The council voted to place a memorial plaque at Leif Hansen Memorial Park, and plant a tree in his name.

A memorial service was held on Saturday.

Econ 919: Kenai Council hears bed tax opposition

May 17, 2019

    The Kenai City Council passed a resolution this week — after much debate and many amendments — essentially supporting Assemblyman Dale Bagley’s latest attempt to have a bed tax approved, first by the assembly, and then the voters.

Former Kenai City Councilman Duane Bannock, now associated with the Uptown Motel, came before the council to express his extreme displeasure over Bagley’s proposal and the city’s potential support. 

An hour of debate had already passed Wednesday night when the Kenai City Council found out that the ordinance before them did not accomplish what they thought it would.

The debate was ostensibly over whether to allow on-site consumption of marijuana in the city limits. The State of Alaska has already passed rules allowing it.

However, the ordinance before the council was only to regulate on-site consumption, not whether to allow it. 

Bacteria monitoring in Kenai River funded

May 2, 2019

For a time during Wednesday night’s Kenai City Council meeting, the passage of funds to pay for water quality testing in the Kenai River this summer was uncertain. Council members felt burned by press reports last year that there was an elevated level of bacteria levels on the beaches during the dipnet season, and they blamed the Kenai Watershed Forum, which is the contractor hired to collect the water samples.

Councilman Jim Glendening explained.

Kenai to consider onsite cannabis consumption

Apr 30, 2019

 

The Kenai City Council will consider whether to amend its cannabis laws this week. There’s an ordinance on the agenda that would allow for onsite consumption of cannabis products in licensed businesses.

Nearly a half-a-million dollars has been spent from the Kenai Airport Terminal remodeling project’s contingency fund on asbestos abatement alone. However, the city is being reimbursed at a significant rate by the Federal Aviation Administration. 

City of Kenai administration brought forth an ordinance last week that would accept almost $409,000 from the FAA to reimburse two change orders that totaled almost $462,000.

“Almost of this is associated with asbestos abatement,” City Manager Paul Ostrander explained.

Kenai City Council adjusts investment strategy

Apr 10, 2019

The city of Kenai voted to rearrange some of its investment strategies last week in an effort to smooth out the flow of income into the city’s coffers. The changes will come to the city’s General Land Sale and Airport Land Sale permanent funds.

They’re operated much like the state’s Permanent Fund, investing an un-touchable core balance of money and withdrawing some of the earnings it generates each year to fund city operations.

City Finance Director Terry Eubank explained that the Airport Lands Fund will actually return less in coming years, but it’s for a good reason.

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