Around 20 Funny River residents came to the Tuesday Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly meeting to speak in favor of a resolution supporting a community boat launch to the Kenai River. The resolution unanimously passed the assembly.
A majority of the speakers were in support of the initiative, which came from Mayor Charlie Pierce.
The community has very little access to launch their boats into the Kenai River from the Funny River area, and many of the residents said they have to travel to Soldotna or Kenai to launch their boats.
In a June 20 memo from Pierce to the assembly, Pierce said the Funny River community has been working to convince the state to develop a boat launch facility in their community for many years. The memo says no properly constructed boat launch exists on that side, the south side of the river.
The lack of a publicly accessibly boat launch has resulted in tourists and others accessing the river by trespassing on private property, the memo said. “This creates overcrowded parking in private neighborhoods on unmaintained roads, blocking emergency vehicle access and causing many problems.”
A 2004 study supported the construction of the facility and better river access in the area, the memo said.
Michael Masters, a resident of Funny River since 1979, spoke to the assembly in support of public access to the Kenai River. He said upstream between Centennial Park in Soldotna and Killey River, there is only one public access point to launch a boat on the south side of the Kenai River.
“This situation is unacceptable for the people that live in this subdivision and the entire Funny River community,” Masters said.
Many residents who supported the launch said it could increase property values in the community, and keep anglers from trespassing over private property to get to the river.
Ed Scribner, a resident of Funny River, said he would love to launch his boat somewhere safe.
“I would think we should be encouraging people to our recreation area to help make the community grow,” Scribner said.
The resolution was also supported by the executive director of the Kenai River Sportfishing Association, Ben Mohr. Mohr said the association has been advocating for river access in Funny River for quite awhile.
“You could have someone living 200 yards from the river and it takes them longer to launch their boat, than somebody that’s out in Nikiski, and that should be rectified,” Mohr told the assembly Tuesday.
Not everyone was in favor of the boat launch, and several people spoke in opposition of the resolution.
Jason Knotter lives in Funny River. He said it’s not the right time for the boat launch.
“I hear a lot of valid concerns of why we should have the boat launch but I don’t think now is the right time to be spending money on a project that is a luxury,” Knotter said. “It’s a want not a need, when we have needs that are getting cut at the moment.”
The resolution demonstrates borough support for the community’s efforts to obtain state cooperation and support to build these needed facilities for the public benefit, the memo said.