Homer Alaska - News

Story last updated at 5:12 PM on Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Council backs trail, but wants more research



By McKibben Jackinsky
Staff writer

Presented with two resolutions — one to approve the concept and construction of a non-motorized trail on Kachemak Drive, and a substitute resolution to support construction of the trail — the Homer City Council chose Monday to request the Kachemak Drive Path Committee do a little more research.

Council member Barbara Howard gave several reasons for withholding support: the committee's plans lacked a review by the city's Transportation Advisory Committee, Howard was not convinced the trail had a higher priority than other trails, information provided by the committee did not include maintenance costs, and Howard anticipated difficulty in acquiring rights of way.

A tie vote to accept the substitute resolution was broken by Mayor James Hornaday.

"I certainly support this idea, but don't really know if we're ready to go for construction, so I'm going to vote no," Hornaday said.

A motion made by council member David Lewis and passed by the council removed references to construction in the original resolution.

"I can't see us commit the funds until we know the total cost of what it is," said Lewis.

Other changes to the resolution approved by the council included removal of a reference to lower the speed limit on Kachemak Drive since the roadway is under control of the state of Alaska, not the city, and asked for information on necessary permits and project costs.

The council's action came after comments from Bumppo Bremicker, chairman of the Kachemak Drive Path Committee.

"We've done a pretty good job coming up with where it should go and we need the city to step up and say 'we're going to do' this and then we can look at it in detail," said Bremicker, who noted that a trail along Kachemak Drive would provide a link between existing trails on East End Road and the Spit.

Also supporting the trail, Deb Lowney pointed to an increased use of non-motorized modes of transportation.

"The more we encourage that, the better," said Lowney. "But most of all, I encourage this for the safety component. This is a really heavily used road out there."

Kachemak Drive rehabilitation/pathway was No. 14 on the city's 15-item 2013 capital improvement project list approved by the council in October.

"I just want to be resoundingly clear that I feel and other council members as well are very supportive of this planned trail, but we want more information at our disposal. What is the cost? What will it take?" said council member Beauregard Burgess. "So, anything this group of people can bring to us that we can approve and move this project forward, I'll support. I think that's the main concern here."

Also receiving public support was Resolution 12-046, approving a short-term lease with the Homer Boys & Girls Club to extend its occupancy of the lower level of the Homer Education and Recreation Complex Building until Sept. 1. The club has been at its current location since 1999.

Kelly Cooper of the Boys & Girls Task Force said the task force wants to partner with the city on capital funding and grant opportunities in an effort to make the building sustainable.

An effort by council member Lewis to add three additional months to the lease by extending it to Dec. 31 drew a reaction from others on the council.

"I have a concern about entering into an extended agreement with them in that we have other parties that may be interested in using the building that would remove it from an expense to the city," said Beth Wythe. "I'm not opposed to continuing through the summer when the cost of utilities is negligible, but I think extending into the winter is not necessarily in our best interest when we know what our budget is."

Referring to previous extensions of the club's lease, Howard said, "I had kids like this that just kept coming up with short-term things. I understand what they are trying to do, but I am telling you this is it. No more past Dec. 31."

The council approved the resolution, with the Dec. 31 date, unanimously.

No one from the public took advantage of Monday's public hearings on the port and harbor revenue bond project; Resolution 12-037, amending the city's port and harbor fee schedule to repay a revenue bond and contribute to the port and harbor enterprise reserves; and Resolution 12-038, amending the port of Homer tariff to repay a revenue bond and contribute to the port and harbor enterprise reserves. Those items will again be available for public comment at the council's May 29 meeting.

During a meeting of the Committee of the Whole and again during the council's regular meeting, Michelle Drew, partner of Mikunda, Cottrell and Company, presented an overview of the company's audit of the city.

"The 2011 audit did result in an unqualified opinion, a clean audit opinion, the best you can get from external auditor," said Drew in summary.

The next meeting of the Homer City Council will be at 6 p.m. May 29, after a meeting of the Committee of the Whole at 5 p.m.

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at mckibben.jackinsky@homernews.com.

SIDEBAR

Other actions at the Monday meeting of the Homer City Council included presentations of proclamations for Peace Officers Memorial Day May 15 and National Police Week, May 13-19; National Public Works Week, May 20-26; National Women's Health Week, May 13-19; and Bike to Work Week, May 14-18.

The council adopted:

• Ordinance 12-20, transfer of $3,000 from the general fund reserve to the Public Arts Committee for the Baycrest Overlook Improvement Gateways Project, public hearing and second reading May 29;

• Resolution 12-039, accepting the 2011 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report with audit and financial statements;

• Resolution 12-040, extending for one year a prisoner meal service contract with Caribou Family Restaurant;

• Resolution 12-041, designating community economic development priorities;

• Resolution 12-042, requesting the Kenai Peninsula Borough transfer its share of state fisheries business tax proceeds to the city of Homer;

• Resolution 12-043, accepting and approving recommendations from the Port and Harbor Improvement Committee regarding capital improvements in the harbor and the funding thereof, and authorizing the cit manager to prepare documents for grant funding, a revenue bond sale, and fee adjustments necessary to service the bond;

• Resolution 12-044, expressing the council's intent to begin a community review of public financing for construction of a natural gas distribution system, with a workshop scheduled for June 4 (see related story, page XX); and

• Resolution 12-045, awarding a $17,437.50 contract for replacement of the wastewater treatment plant boiler to Orca Specialties Inc.

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