Homer Alaska - News

Story last updated at 3:39 PM on Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Assembly to decide future of gas to AP

By McKibben Jackinsky
Staff Writer

Anchor Point property owners have done their part. Now it's up to the nine-member Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly to give the go-ahead for funding the Anchor Point Utility Special Assessment District, or USAD, a step toward bringing natural gas to the 268 Anchor Point residents and businesses within the district's boundaries.

Sponsored by Borough Mayor David Carey and introduced Tuesday, Ordinance 2011-19-18 is scheduled for a public hearing when the assembly meets in Homer Sept. 20. If passed, it will appropriate $723,410 to the USAD for the Anchor Point Natural Gas Line project.

Total cost for the project is estimated at $723,410, including the direct cost of $698,720 and indirect administrative costs of $24,690, Carey said in a memo to Assembly President Gary Knopp in support of the ordinance.

Funding for the project is provided through the borough's general fund and repaid through 10 annual assessments paid by property owners inside the USAD.

An equal assessment of each benefiting parcel results in allocation of approximately $2,699.30 per parcel.

Brian and Janet Emard, AP residents and business owners, helped gather the required signatures of property owners in the affected area.

"We're very pleased the community really came together and we got 76 percent," said Brian Emard of the extra 6 percent above the 70 percent necessary. "The community has spoken loud and clearly. Now it's up to the assembly to live up to its promise and give the final approval and fund the project."

Very little opposition to the USAD was noted during the signature-gathering, said Emard.

"The only reason we didn't get a higher percentage (of signatures) is that some people had legal issues as far as deeds go,' he said. "It was very specific that all the named property owners on every piece (of property) needed to sign the petition for legal purposes. A lot of people that wanted to sign couldn't because it was either a company, an LLC or an organization with a number of people named or because people were out of state or incapacitated physically."

Engineering of the project has already been completed, said John Sims, manager of Enstar Natural Gas Company's corporate communications and customer service.

Although it was hoped construction could be completed before the winter temperatures cause the ground to freeze, Charlie Pierce, Enstar's southern division operations manager, said the late date of the public hearing might cause a slow-down.

"There's obviously state (Department of Transportation and Public Facility) permits, as well as borough permits and the question of a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit that may be required," said Pierce. "All of those things are evaluated after we are in receipt of the (borough's) letter to proceed."

Pierce, who also is vice president of the borough assembly, said he is "not real sure what the assembly's actions will be. We'll have to wait and see."

In the event of a delay until next year's construction season, an increase in the project cost will not result.

"If no construction takes place this year, we'll honor the price that we provided and we'll do it next construction at this year's construction costs," said Pierce.

For Emard and others, the delay offers time to make the necessary changes.

"I'm going to have to get a new heating system and plan on doing that this winter and hooking up as soon as I can," said Emard. "This is a really great thing for the community. I think even the people that didn't vote in favor of it are going to realize once this happens what a good thing it is for everybody. It's truly a win-win situation."

The next meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough will be in the city of Homer council chambers, 7 p.m. Sept. 20.

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