Members of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly participate in a meeting on Tuesday, April 5, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Members of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly participate in a meeting on Tuesday, April 5, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Assembly OKs land lease for Anchor Point Food Pantry

The land is located near Chapman Elementary School

The Anchor Point Food Pantry has a new home near Chapman Elementary School in Anchor Point following the approval of a 20-year land lease agreement by the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly last week.

The food pantry, which for nine years operated out of the Great Land Worship Center in Anchor Point, was asked to move last year following a spike in the number of people the pantry served throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The lease agreement approved by the borough assembly is for a 3.5-acre parcel of land down the street from Chapman Elementary School, maps show.

The parcel is owned by the Kenai Peninsula Borough and was classified as “institutional” last year. The food pantry has plans for a phased development of a community food pantry on the site as well as a long-term goal of expanding the facility to include a community center, according to the ordinance that authorized the lease.

The number of people seeking assistance from the pantry increased dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic. The food pantry served 240 adults and 70 children in October of 2019. That’s compared to the 674 adults and 554 children they served in October of 2020, though the sharp increase in children served is partially due to a program that provided 250 bags to area children. They served 854 adults and 427 children, again including a children’s program, in December 2020.

The assembly heard during its April 19 meeting public testimony from people who supported and opposed the lease.

Jasmine Baker, a 16-year-old from Anchor Point, was one of many who submitted comments supporting the food pantry’s efforts. Baker, who said she volunteers at the pantry, said she helps fill food bags and hands out warm drinks.

“I love meeting new people and it has really helped me meet the people of our town,” Baker wrote. “Being a part of the Anchor Point food pantry has been a blessing to me, to see that helping others is a wonderful thing and I’m glad that I can spend my time this way.”

Those who testified in opposition to the lease said the assembly should take more time to consider alternative locations, while some assembly members countered that discussions have been ongoing for almost a year.

Anchor Point resident Emmitt Trimble said the assembly should explore other pieces of land and said the proposed parcel is of interest to him because it’s owned by the borough.

“If this was a piece of private property, you wouldn’t hear anything from me — it would be none of my business — but it’s not,” Emmitt Trimble said. “It’s taxpayer property. It’s public property. So I’m here, not necessarily representing everyone in the public, but as a taxpayer. I think we need to at least pump the brakes a little bit and slow down.”

Trimble, along with his wife Mary, also voiced concerns about the proximity of the land parcel to Chapman Elementary School. Mary Trimble, who also serves on the Anchor Point Advisory Planning Commission, wrote in comments submitted to the assembly in advance that the 3.5-acre site should be considered for school uses, such as sporting events.

“Tying this property up with a lease leaves potentially 30 years before the school has another chance at this opportunity,” Mary Trimble said.

Anchor Point Food Pantry President Melissa Martin wrote in comments submitted to the assembly that the food pantry has been in contact with Chapman Elementary School to discuss community concerns and the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District has not expressed interest in the lease. Assembly member Cindy Ecklund said that the school district had time to intervene in the process if they were concerned about the lease.

“I think it’s time to move forward with this,” Ecklund said. “And I think there was plenty of time for anyone from the school district to step in and ask for the property.”

Assembly member Tyson Cox had similar thoughts.

“We’re hearing that there just hasn’t been enough time and I’m feeling like we’ve talked about this several different times,” Cox said.

Kenai Peninsula Borough Land Management Officer Marcus Mueller wrote in a March 24 memo to assembly members that the lease is for 20 years with one 10-year renewal option. The lease, Mueller wrote, is specified for a community food pantry with community gatherings, community center uses and related activities. It requires that the facility be open to the general public.

Martin told assembly members that the pantry expects to open “almost immediately” and that, if things go according to plan, the pantry will be open in time to serve people this summer. Per a 19-page development plan prepared by Steve Theno, who is a retired engineer from Anchorage, there are no existing structures on the property, but the site offers “very good opportunities for development.”

“The site has sufficient area to construct the core facilities proposed for the Anchor Point Food Pantry,” Theno wrote.

In the meantime, the Anchor Point Food Pantry is temporarily operating at 34361 Old Sterling Highway in Anchor Point, next to the Anchor River Inn Store. The pantry has a meal and food line every Monday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

All assembly members present voted in support of the lease agreement. The assembly’s April 19 meeting can be viewed on the assembly’s website at kpb.us.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

More in News

Assembly President Brent Johnson asks questions of representatives of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District during a joint work session of the School Board and Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly in Soldotna, Alaska, on Tuesday, April 2, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Borough to enter contract for asbestos flooring abatement in 3 central peninsula schools

The work will be done at Kenai Central High, Kenai Alternative High and Sterling Elementary schools

Alaska State Troopers logo.
1 dead, 3 missing after boat capsizes near Seward

Alaska State Troopers were notified by the U.S. Coast Guard of an overturned vessel around 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday

Kenai Central High School stands under clear skies in Kenai, Alaska, on Thursday, May 23, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Borough approves contract for KCHS parking lot rehabilitation

Soldotna-based Foster Construction will be awarded the bid of $648,997 to complete the project

Central Peninsula Hospital is seen in Soldotna on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Central Peninsula Hospital to host Cancer Survivor’s Day event

The event will take place Sunday, June 2 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion
Rep. Ben Carpenter, R-Nikiski, speaks to the joint Soldotna and Kenai chambers of commerce at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex on Wednesday.
Carpenter gives wrap up on session as he nears end of House term

Carpenter is seeking election to state Senate District D

(from left to right) Jachin Sanchez, Carter Lemons, Rowan Mahoney, Adelyn McCorison and Taylor Rickard graduated from Ninilchik School on Monday, May 13, 2024 in Ninilchik, Alaska. Photo provided by Mattea Peters-Williamson
Ninilchik graduates 5 in 2024 commencement

The school held the ceremony Monday, May 13

Kenai Peninsula Education Association President LaDawn Druce, left, and committee Chair Jason Tauriainen participate in the first meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s Four Day School Week Ad Hoc Committee on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
4-day school week committee adjourns

The committee will deliver recommendations to school board in July

Soldotna Elementary School Principal Dr. Austin Stevenson points out corroded insulation outside of the school building on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022 in Soldotna . (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna Elementary awaits action on approved bond

Almost two years after public OKs bond, borough asking for more time

Most Read