Homer Alaska - News

Story last updated at 3:05 PM on Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Council gives its business green light

By McKibben Jackinsky
Staff Writer

There have been times when city council meetings have lasted for hours. Not so Tuesday night. Mayor James Hornaday brought the meeting to order at 6 p.m. and gaveled it to a close less than an hour later.

HoPP, the Homer Playground Project, and rebuild of the Karen A. Hornaday Hillside Park was the most frequently discussed subject of the evening. Council members Francie Roberts and Beauregard Burgess, city manager Walt Wrede and Hornaday gave firsthand reports of their experience during the May 20-May 27 successful build week (see related story, page 2).

"It was a tremendously well-organized effort," said Wrede. "I was completely impressed."

Mike Illg, coordinator for the city's Community Parks and Recreation Program, praised area residents for their participation in the project.

"I would like to go on record to thank the entire community of Homer and the surrounding area for the successful installment of the new Karen Hornaday Park playground," said Illg. "We had no injuries other than a few blisters. And there were lots of happy, happy smiles."

It was smooth sailing for resolutions and ordinances up for public hearings, new business and resolutions on the council agenda. One after another there was a motion to adopt, a second to the motion, no discussion, no objection and, as a result, the motion passed.

The only public comments in addition to Illg's came from Lindianne Sarno, providing an Economic Development Advisory Commission report, and Angie Newby of the city's Public Arts Committee speaking in favor of Ordinance 12-20, amending the city's operating budget by appropriating $3,000 for the Baycrest Overlook Improvement Gateways Project.

"We have started to realize on the Economic Development (Advisory) Commission that projects like HoPP and the (Kachemak Drive) bike path are part of what brings young families, young vibrant families to Homer, people that want to raise kids here because here kids can be healthy, happy ... and get around town safely," said Sarno.

"These kinds of projects are not just recreation. They are also part and parcel of economic development in this town."

Sarno urged public involvement with the commission as it addresses topics that include affordable housing, marine and technical training and education, marketing of Homer for high-tech businesses, downtown vitalization, extending water and sewer distribution systems and increasing the number of customers, and promoting Homer as an agricultural center.

The Baycrest Overlook project is a collaborative effort of the Homer Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center, Pratt Museum, the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, and the Alaska Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation to "make the Baycrest Hill an outstanding gateway to our community," Newby wrote in an April 10 memo to the mayor and city council.

"This project will have a major economic development impact since the Baycrest Hill access to Homer is the primary way we draw people into our magical Cosmic Hamlet by the Sea."

With Monday night's smooth flow of business, Newby said, "I'm almost afraid to say something. I should just sit down because everything is rolling along nicely."

After Newby assured the council the committee had been unable to find another source for the final $3,000 needed for the project, the ordinance passed with no objection.

Resolution 12-050, initiating a special service district in the Lillian Walli Estate Subdivision, was pulled from the agenda until Wrede provides additional information at the council's meeting on June 25.

The Homer City Council holds a work session at 5 p.m. Monday to discuss the natural gas pipeline (see related story, page 1).

The next regular meeting of the Homer City Council will be at 6 p.m. June 11. It follows a meeting of the Committee of the Whole at 5 p.m.

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