Land sale, boat launch on tap

Council to tackle variety of topics

Posted: Wednesday, January 17, 2007

A proposed contract to sell 38 acres of city land to Wal-Mart is slated to get a first look by the Kenai City Council tonight.

Wal-Mart applied to lease the land from Kenai in October 2005, in order to build a 235,000 square-foot super center behind the Kenai Chrysler Center. Under the lease terms, the giant retailer would have had first option to purchase the land.

Now Wal-Mart has agreed to a sale contract that would bring $3,580,000 to the city’s coffers.

The proposed purchase agreement states Wal-Mart will build a store of at least 170,000 square-feet within four years of closing the sale of the land or within four years of the issuance of a wetlands permit, whichever is later.

Last fall, Wal-Mart applied for a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers to fill in approximately 1 1/2 acres of wetlands on the site where the store is to be built.

At that time, Wal-Mart spokesperson Jennifer Holder said the company would like to see the store open “in the first quarter of 2008.”

On Tuesday, Kenai City Manager Rick Koch said Wal-Mart has already agreed to terms of the sale contract being introduced to the council tonight. Action on the ordinance to authorize the sale is not scheduled until Feb. 7.

The council also is slated to introduce ordinances setting up financial arrangements with the state for the management of the Pacific Rim Institute of Safety Management (PRISM) center.

The state fire marshal’s office is to begin running the fire training facility in the first week of February, according to Koch.

He said, under the proposed arrangement, the state would conduct training, invoice clients for the training instructing them to pay the city, and the city would then reimburse the state for expenses incurred. The state also would pay for heating and lighting the PRISM center, a city obligation under past management.

Koch said the center lost money for the city in the past, but stands to break even on the cost of training and have the utility bills paid under the proposed agreement.

The council will again be taking public comments on its proposal to restrict use of the city boat launch to vessels powered by four-cycle or direct injection, two-cycle engines.

The proposal is in response to a Department of Environmental Conservation report showing high levels of aromatic hydrocarbons in the Kenai River.

Koch said he anticipates the city’s eventual action to combat the pollution will resemble measures by the Department of Natural Resources.

In other fish business, the council is slated to hear from Dwight Kramer, secretary of the Kenai Area Fisherman’s Coalition, who is seeking the city’s endorsement for asking the state board of fish to move its planned 2008 meeting from Anchorage to the Kenai Peninsula.

In a letter to the board, Kramer states 80 to 85 percent of Upper Cook Inlet proposals considered by the board historically have pertained to the Kenai and Kasilof rivers and adjacent offshore Cook Inlet waters.

The city council also is expected to consider setting new dog license, impoundment and kennel fees. A proposed ordinance also provides for voluntary inserting of identifying microchips into dogs.

The new dog license fee, if approved, increases to $10 from $2 for sterilized dogs, and to $30 from $10 for all other dogs.

The council meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.

Phil Hermanek can be reached at phillip.hermanek

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