Homer Alaska - News

Story last updated at 8:12 PM on Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Census shows Homer area grows slightly



BY MICHAEL ARMSTRONG
STAFF WRITER

If it seems like a few more warm bodies have moved into the neighborhood, you're right — at least according to the 2010 US Census results released earlier this month. From Ninilchik to Kachemak Bay and to the lower Cook Inlet villages of Port Graham and Nanwalek, there are 1,168 more residents on the lower Kenai Peninsula, an increase of 9.7 percent. The new population figure is 13,214 people, up from 12,046 10 years ago.

The city of Homer showed the largest gain, a whopping 26.8 percent increase, with a new population of 5,003. The Diamond Ridge area dropped 646 people, a 35 percent decrease. Both numbers reflect a shift in city of Homer boundaries as a result of the 2003 annexation. The 2000 pre-annexation population of Homer was 3,946.

The 2010 census for Homer is down from a 2009 Alaska Department of Labor estimate of 5,551 people. Anne Marie Holen, an assistant to City Manager Walt Wrede, said she has been trying to get clarification from the Department of Labor on the difference in numbers but had not yet heard an explanation.

Other areas showing declines include Nikolaevsk, which lost 27 people, and the city of Seldovia, down 31 residents. Fritz Creek, which includes the Old Believer villages at the head of the bay, gained 329 people, while Halibut Cove doubled in size, from 35 to 76 residents.

Alaska's total population went up 83,299 people from 2000, now at 710,231. The Kenai Peninsula Borough population is now 55,400 people, up 5,709.

The slight change in population shouldn't affect House District 35 boundaries, said Rep. Paul Seaton, R-Homer. Last week, the Alaska Reapportionment Board began looking at statewide numbers. With District 35's population down about 600 and District 34 up about 1,000, moving some residents into District 35 would make sense. Seaton said adding Nikolaevsk to District 35 would be the logical thing to do. Currently the district boundary runs along the center of the north fork of the Anchor River.

That would put the Kenai Peninsula's Russian Old Believer villages in one house district — adding the original Old Believer village of Nikolaevsk to the newer villages of Kachemak Selo, Razdolna and Voznesenka at the end of East End Road.

"What you try to do is maintain sociological, cohesive plans," Seaton said of resdistricting. "Kachemak Bay is a pretty integrated sociological unit."

Seaton said he didn't think Kenai Peninsula districts would change beyond the borough and that the borough would keep three representatives.

"If you start cutting or moving pieces into Anchorage, it gets much more difficult," Seaton said.

In other population changes in the Alaska, Anchorage now has 291,826 people, the Matanuska Susitna Borough is 88,995, Fairbanks North Star Borough is 97,581 and the City and Borough of Juneau is 31,275.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at michael.armstrong@homernews.

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