Homer Alaska - News

Story last updated at 4:43 PM on Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Council praises city manager, nine years of service to Homer

By McKibben Jackinsky
Staff Writer

There was cause to celebrate at the Homer City Council's regular meeting on Monday, namely City Manager Walt Wrede's nine years of service to the city.

Mayor James Hornaday presented Wrede with a "Mayor's Recognition," praising Wrede as being "knowledgeable, detailed and a zealous employee for the city of Homer."

Before being hired in 2003, Wrede worked as a governmental affairs consultant. Between 1994 and 2002, he was the borough manager for the Lake and Peninsula Borough and from 1990-1994, he was the community planner for Cordova. He has a master's degree in sociology from Washington State University. Since being hired in 2003, Wrede has served for two mayors and 18 council members.

Jack Cushing, mayor at the time Wrede began his tenure with the city, said at Monday's council meeting that employees are part of the legacy elected officials create.

"(Wrede's) served the elected officials very well. I think he has served the citizens of Homer excellently. Thanks for your work, Walt," said Cushing. "I think you're doing a fabulous job. Here's to a lot more years for you."

Former city council member Ray Kranich recalled being impressed during Wrede's interview for the city manager position by his ability to listen.

"He still hears and listens and he can modify his position to fit new information he's given," said Kranich. "I think the city of Homer, the people of Homer have had their operations in very good hands with Mr. Wrede on a daily basis."

In other city business this week, Kachemak Drive residents Don McNamara and Donna Rae Faulkner moved one step closer to having their Ocean Drive property removed from the Ocean Drive Loop Special Service District. Ordinance 12-29, sponsored by council members Beth Wythe and David Lewis, was unanimously approved for introduction; a public hearing and second reading are scheduled for July 23.

Property owners within that district are taxed to pay for annual repairs to a seawall built to provide erosion protection. McNamara and Faulkner contend they have paid approximately $15,000 for repairs to their section of the wall. They also have applied to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to have the permit for that section of the seawall transferred to them from the city.

"Don and Donna Rae are doing what the council wants everyone to do," said Wrede.

Moving one step closer to bringing natural gas to Homer and Kachemak City, the council approved the introduction of Ordinance 12-30, appropriating a legislative grant of $8,150,000 for construction of a natural gas pipeline from Anchor Point. The ordinance is scheduled for a public hearing and second reading for July 23.

The approval came from five of the six council members, after Hornaday ruled that council member Wythe's employment with Homer Electric Association created a "substantial financial interest" for her in the matter. Reading from a prepared script, Hornaday said financial interest included "an interest one holds personally, an interest of an immediate family member or an interest of an organization with which one holds a position of management, or is an officer, director, trustee, employee or the like." He noted HEA has a "substantial financial interest" in natural gas being brought to the area, saying it would result in a loss of more than $5,000 within a period of 12 consecutive months as some HEA members chose to heat with natural gas rather than electricity.

Burgess appealed Hornaday's ruling, noting Wythe's "good attention to detail and pursuing matters with a fine-tooth comb." His objection failed, however, for lack of a second.

An ordinance appropriating $30,000 to relocate the entrance to Mariner Park also was approved for introduction and will be scheduled for a public hearing and second reading at the council's July 23 meeting. Ordinance 12-28 seeks to move the access drive away from a curve to the south and position the entrance more to the north, allowing for greater visibility and safer pedestrian crossing. Wrede said permitting on the project was almost complete and that work would begin this summer.

Receiving final approval by the council Monday was an amended version of Ordinance 12-24, that seeks to protect city parks and recreational activities by outlining rules, providing for park hours and establishing fines.

Prior to the regular meeting the city council met in executive session to discuss the city's contract with Klinkner and to be given an update on court action concerning a deed restriction on Ben Walter Park.

The next regular meeting of the Homer City Council is 6 p.m. July 23, with the Committee of the Whole meeting at 5 p.m.

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