Central Emergency Services is moving forward with plans to purchase land for a new central fire station in Soldotna.
The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly introduced an ordinance Tuesday night that would purchase property on the corner of East Redoubt Avenue and Homestead Lane — across the street from the Petco store in Soldotna — for the new station for about $1.5 million. The assembly is scheduled to consider the ordinance in a public hearing at its Sept. 4 meeting.
A site selection committee with members from the Kenai Peninsula Borough, the Central Emergency Service Area and the city of Soldotna identified the site as the best for the new station, which would replace the current Station 1 on Binkley Street across from Safeway. The proposed purchase involves two different property owners — Stanley and Sons, LLC and Soldier Creek Corp., both based in Anchorage — and would need a realignment of Homestead Lane, which runs toward the Kenai River from Redoubt Avenue, according to a memo sent to the assembly from Land Management Officer Marcus Mueller and CES Chief Roy Browning.
The funding for the purchase itself would come through a loan from the Land Trust Investment Fund, they wrote in the memo. That fund doesn’t technically exist yet — the assembly is also considering an ordinance to establish the Land Trust Investment Fund, also scheduled for hearing on Sept. 4. The investment fund, if established, would be partly invested in an endowment-type fund to generate enough money to pay for the borough’s land management department and to provide some additional funds to the borough’s general fund, with a number of parameters set on it, according to a memo sent to the assembly from Mueller, Finance Director Brandi Harbaugh and Land Trust Project Lead Larry Semmens.
“The acquisition of a project site is an important step for CES’s project planning, facility design, and pursuit of funding,” Mueller and Browning wrote in the memo. “Securing the site in advance of CES’ capital funding is enabled by a loan from the Land Trust Investment Fund.”
The CES property purchase is part of a long-term project to construct a new building for Station 1. The current building dates back to 1957, before either the borough or the city of Soldotna existed. Today, it handles about 3,000 medical and fire calls per year, or about eight per day, the most of any of the service area’s stations. It doesn’t have enough room for the staff, to house volunteers or to store equipment.
The borough and service area plan to look for grant funding to help pay for the construction of the station itself, estimated at $11 million, or may go to the borough to request a bond issue.