Story last updated at 3:14 p.m. Thursday, September 26, 2002

City council requests sites for library, animal shelter
by Carey James
Staff Writer

The Homer City Council gave the city a strong direction at last Monday's meeting: find locations for the animal shelter and the library so planning can move forward.

Supporters of the proposed construction of a new library have long pushed for the city to select a site, saying that having a dedicated location for the project would help with fund-raising and design for the library.

John Fenske, one of the sponsors of the resolution asking the city manager to come back to the council with an analysis of various possible locations by early January, said the library project has been lingering without a site for too long.

"I believe the council needs to select a site," Fenske said.

The council asked the city manager to consider four sites proposed by a citizens group that created an analysis of several spots for the council last month. They include the old middle school area near the Kachemak Bay West Campus of the Kenai Peninsula College, a block of city land in the undeveloped center of town often referred to as the Town Square area, an area of land near the Sterling Highway entrance to the Poopdeck Trail, and the existing library site. Fenske added another site for review, the strip of recently cleared land behind Eagle Quality Center.

Mike Yourkowski expressed his concern that the site location directive and deadline would tie the council and city manager's hands in the site selection process. For example, Yourkowski said, landowners may try to sell their property at inflated prices if they know the city has to decide on a location by January.

In addition to a location for the library, the council directed city administrators to get moving on a location for the proposed animal shelter, a project that has hung in limbo for many years.

The resolution, which was brought before the council by Fenske and Councilman Rick Ladd, originally asked for a location pick by Oct. 28, but City Manager Ron Drathman said the request was impossible to meet. Drathman did say, however, that he could give the council feedback on the current site of the shelter, which Fenske promoted during the meeting as a promising candidate for the new shelter.

Drathman said that site wouldn't work.

"(The shelter) doesn't fit in the site Fenske is trying to fit it in," he said.

Councilman Kurt Marquardt amended the resolution to ask for a response from city administration by January.

The shelter also came up during the council's decision on the state Capital Project Matching Grant. Councilwoman Pat Cue and Councilman Ray Kranich both voted in favor of splitting the approximately $100,000 state grant between the shelter and the library. But they were outvoted by the rest of the council, which voiced concerns that the shelter already had the needed $400,000 in funding. Cue and Kranich claimed, however, that the project could not be completed for the projected amount.

In the end, the council chose the library as the single recipient of the grant funding.

In other news:

* The council passed a resolution requesting the Kenai Peninsula Borough delete certain areas inside city limits from the spruce removal program because the areas could potentially suffer environmental damage as a result of the timber harvest.

* The council reviewed a report from city administration on two parcels of land in the Ocean Drive Loop Bluff Erosion Control Project that were deeded to the city in Dec. 2001 after the borough foreclosed on the property. The properties will cost the city around $2,000 in back taxes and around $120,217 in erosion control dues. Assessed values of the parcels are $8,000 each.

Carey James can be reached at