Efforts to mitigate flooding in the Kalifornsky Beach area have been put on hold while the Kenai Peninsula Borough re-evaluates a proposed land exchange with property owners to construct a drainage easement.
The borough assembly postponed an ordinance that would have authorized a property exchange with Paula and Timothy Keohane for their 4.3-acre property at Karluk Avenue for a 1.84-acre parcel at Mile 12.1 Kalifornsky Beach Road. The purpose of the swap was to make the Keohane property a permanent drainage asset for the Karluk Avenue ditch system, according to a memo to the borough assembly by Borough Land Management Officer Marcus Mueller.
As part of the proposal, the borough would have reserved the “Government” land classification on the 1.84-acre parcel on the bluff, which is used as a drainage outlet into the Cook Inlet. A drainage easement with a width of 60 feet at the K-Beach right of way line diverging to a width of 100 feet at the top of the bluff would be constructed on the southern portion of the parcel.
Borough Chief of Staff Paul Ostrander recommended the assembly postpone until the Jan. 20, 2015 meeting, which would allow administration enough time to have an engineer to decide if half of the 1.84-acre parcel is sufficient space to construct a drainage easement outlet.
The Keohane property is known as the Karluk Basin because during the 2013 fall flooding, all the excess water ran down Karluk Avenue through their property into the ditch, Mueller wrote in the memo.
In response to the flooding, a pipe was installed under Kalifornsky Beach Road to mechanically pump water out to the Cook Inlet once the basin reached its estimated 3 million gallon capacity to store water. The borough also built ditches and installed culverts down Karluk Avenue, Buoy Avenue and Trawling Avenue.
Ostrander said he received a concern from a neighbor that the portion of the bluff parcel needed to construct an easement wouldn’t be large enough to handle the amount of water and could erode the bluff like it has in other areas along Kalifornsky Beach Road.
Ostrander made his recommendation to postpone the ordinance during a borough assembly lands committee meeting on Nov. 25.
“As high water increased it’s possible more than 60 feet would be needed to handle the additional flow,” he said. “We didn’t feel comfortable the easement would be large enough. We will bring in an engineer to give us a recommendation if 60 feet is enough or if the entire property would need to be reserved.”
Assembly member Wayne Ogle said the emergency action that took place by the borough in response to the flooding was positive. Now the action has moved to a more permanent solution. Ogle said his concern is if the state is on board with the proposal.
Ostrander said the borough applied for a temporary water use permit from the Department of Natural Resources to pump in periods of high water.
Assembly member Kelly Wolf, who represents the Kalifornsky district, raised concerns that if the catch basin is seen as a storm water basin the Department of Transportation has specific regulations. He said he would like to make sure DOT is on board and a permanent plan is in place before the agreement moves forward.
The borough planning commission unanimously passed a motion to recommend adoption at its Nov. 10 meeting.
In an Aug. 1 letter to Paula Keohane, who lives in Coupeville, Washington, Mueller wrote in the drainage easement area “the borough (or DOT) would retain the right to use, maintain and construct drainage improvements.”
The 1.84-acre parcel is valued at more than $100,000, according to the borough assessing department.
Assembly member and lands committee chair Mako Haggerty said several questions the body has asked need to be answered before the assembly would move forward.
Ostrander said the question that needs to be answered is if the bluff parcel set aside for drainage is large enough.
“That is not a question we can answer with 100 percent certainty at this time,” he said.
Reach Dan Balmer at firstname.lastname@example.org.