A list of projects being sent to lawmakers in Juneau by the Kenai Peninsula Borough describes tens of millions of dollars in capital improvements needed across the Kenai Peninsula. The list, approved by Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly members earlier this month, outlines work for which the borough would like financial assistance from the State of Alaska.
Projects included in the list vary from new building construction to improvements to existing infrastructure, and are spread across the borough.
Purchasing and Contracting Director John Hedges and Community and Fiscal Projects Manager Rachel Chaffee wrote in a Jan. 26 memo to assembly members that the list is meant to reflect priorities voiced by borough, by borough service areas, by the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District and by members of the public.
“In establishing this list of projects, a concerted effort was made to identify and prioritize projects that address areawide needs and provide the maximum benefit to all the taxpayers of the Borough,” Hedges and Chaffee wrote in the memo.
Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Mike Navarre told assembly members during a Feb. 7 meeting of the body’s legislative committee that the projects included in the list will be submitted to CAPSIS, the State of Alaska’s capital project submission and information system. Submittings projects to that program, Navarre said, gives lawmakers the opportunity to apply state funding to the projects if money becomes available.
“These are larger projects for the most part, with the exception of the Seldovia one,” Navarre said.
Described in the document are needs for:
■ $4.5 million for the replacement of and improvements to South Peninsula Hospital’s emergency power plant
■ $10 million worth of improvements to roads maintained by the Kenai Peninsula Borough Road Service Area
■ About $8 million for flood mitigation projects in the Seward Bear Creek Flood Service Area
■ $2 million for improvements to borough transfer sites
■ $275,000 to rehabilitate the sport court at Susan B. English School
■ $3.5 million for the expansion and renovation of Western Emergency Services’ Anchor Point station
■ About $10.9 million for a community center in Kachemak Selo
Inclusion of Kachemak Selo on the list of priorities comes after years of efforts to construct new school building in the community, which is located at the head of Kachemak Bay. The Alaska Legislature has awarded a $10 million education grant for the construction of a new school, which requires a 30% local match from the Kenai Peninsula Borough of which. Of the $5 million needed for the borough’s match, Navarre told assembly members $3 million has already been set aside.
“We haven’t tapped into the state money yet because once we do that, we end up being committed to the project,” Navarre said.
The state and the borough have gone back and forth on the best way to fund improvements to the school facilities in Kachemak Selo, where about 30 students are served by three dilapidating residential buildings. Former Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce, for example, worked to eliminate altogether the need for a local funding match.
The borough has also floated the idea of building a community in Kachemak Selo, which it says could double as a school facility. A community center is what is described in the priority list approved by assembly members this month.
“We put (Kachemak Selo) on here so that we could try to get, instead of a grant that (would require us to) own the facility as a school facility and maintain it, we could have a grant for a community facility in Kachemak Selo that would be owned by the community, but that the school district could lease and use,” Navarre told assembly members.
Per the legislation, copies of the priority list will be sent to Gov. Mike Dunleavy as well as lawmakers representing the Kenai Peninsula.
Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at email@example.com.