Homer Alaska - News

Story last updated at 4:22 PM on Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Sewer treatment project, gas line top city's wish list

By McKibben Jackinsky
Staff Writer

Improvements to Homer's sewer treatment plant, not a natural gas pipeline, top the city's capital improvement project list. A natural gas pipeline from Anchor Point to Homer came in second, but with good cause according to City Manager Walt Wrede.

"The primary reason is that (Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation) projects have to be number one. It's a program rule they have that if you're going to apply for a DEC grant, it's got to be number one on the list," said Wrede.

Will being in the number two spot negatively impact the likelihood of obtaining funding for the natural gas line?

"It's still a top city priority and we'll just have to explain that the sewer plant is, too, and under DEC rules we wanted it to be number one," said Wrede.

Council members individually ranked the projects on a scale of one to 15. The points awarded to each project were totaled and arranged with the project receiving the most points the top priority and the one with the least points the 15th priority. Following are the city's 15 capital improvement projects, listed by priority:

• Sewer treatment plan bio-solids treatment improvements: address amount of sludge produced by city's sewer treatment plane by installing mechanical sludge de-watering equipment to adequately treat and dispose of sludge; installing a digestor so lagoon can be abandoned and a wastewater equalization basin be creates, free space for other sewer treatment support and operations, and increase possibility of energy recovery; slip-lining aging asbestos cement sewer collection mains;

• Homer area natural gas pipeline, phase 2: extend natural gas line from Anchor Point to Homer and Kachemak City;

• Harbor improvement revenue bond projects: includes replacing the Harbormaster's Office, harbor entrance erosion control project, replacing Ramp 3 gangway and approach, replacing some of harbor's older floats, upgrading vessel shore power and water, improvements to the load and launch ramp;

• Skyline fire station: new substation on Skyline Drive to provide fire protection to the area of Homer annexed in 2002; will house a engine/tanker, ambulance and brush truck;

• Fishing Lagoon improvements: dredging and bank stabilization needed to improve water conditions and salmon returns;

• Karen Hornaday Park improvements, phase 1: parking and drainage improvements, upgrades to the playground and day use area, improvements to the ball fields, initial work on the proposed Woodard Creek Trail;

• Tanker 2 refurbishment — Homer Volunteer Fire Department and/or Fire Engine 4 replacement: includes inspection and repair if needed, upgrade to obsolete lighting system, redesign and update of portable water tank compartment, replacement of corroded plumbing and valves, upgrade of interior compartment, repair and repainting of the body;

• Homer High School track renovation: total renovation;

• Alternative water source: Develop new water source utilizing, for example, existing stream such as Twitter Creek, Diamond Creek or Fritz Creek;

• Deep water/cruise ship dock expansion, phase 1: widen existing dock, increase overall length, widen and strengthen existing trestle;

• Homer intersection improvements: implement recommendations of the 2005 Homer Intersections Planning Study, focusing on 12 intersections, to enhance traffic safety, quality of driving and pedestrian experience for residents and visitors;

• Ocean Drive reconstruction with turn lane: create center turn lane, provide well-marked crosswalks, construct a separated bike path, move utilities underground, provide landscaping and other amenities;

• Mariner Park restroom: construction of a plumbed restroom to meet needs of campers and beach walkers during busy summer months;

• Kachemak Drive rehabilitation/pathway: includes raising the embankment, surfacing, widening and drainage improvements;

• Truck loading facility upgrades at Fish Dock: construction of a loading dock to facilitate the loading of fish onto trucks, paving and improvements to address drainage problems.

Those 15 items plus the following six comprise the city's 2012-2017 capital improvement plan:

• Ice plant upgrade: increase efficiency and reduce operating costs by replacing six of seven old compressors within the plant with two new state-of-the-art high efficiency refrigeration compressors;

• Harbor sheet pile loading dock: construction of a sheet pile loading pier between the existing barge ramp and the fuel dock on the east side of the small boat harbor to be used to transfer heavy loads by crane onto larges and landing crafts and as mooring for large shallow-draft vessels;

• Homer Harbor float improvements: replace floats with new float system that provides 50-foot stalls on one side and 60-foot stalls on the other side wide enough to accommodate wider fishing vessels and pleasure craft;

• Barge mooring facility: to consist of a row of four or five piles driven perpendicular to the beach, extending down through the tidal area, eliminating necessity of offshore anchor and allowing use at varying tide levels so that barges and other large shallow-draft vessels will be able to moor at the site while undergoing maintenance and repair work;

• Marine ways large vessel haul-out facility: construction of a ramp by which vessels weighing more than 70 tons can be pulled from the water on rails and dry-docked for maintenance, inspection and repairs.