Central Peninsula Health Foundation hopes to purchase Birch Ridge

  • By IAN FOLEY
  • Wednesday, January 28, 2015 10:38pm
  • News

The Central Peninsula Health Foundation has requested $350,000 from the city of Soldotna in order to help purchase the land currently occupied by the Birch Ridge Golf Course.

Board members of the CPHF made the request at a work session preceding the Soldotna City Council meeting on Wednesday at Soldotna’s City Hall.

According to a document provided by the CPHF, the donation would be half of the required money needed to purchase the 92-acre lot.

The other half of the money would come from money received from a charitable organization such as the Rasmuson Foundation. The money from a charitable foundation was contingent on the City Council approving the donation.

If the city council members agreed on the proposal, they would be allowed to assist the CPHF write the grant applications.

The property would be used “as a revenue source for the (the CPHF) and community non-profits” and be “a potential year round recreational venue for the residents of the community, according to the document.

If the CPHF acquired the land, they would lease the site in order to provide a variety of activities to promote health, including golf, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

Should the proposal be accepted, the CPHF would lease the site to Pat and Myrna Cowan, the current owners of the Birch Ridge Golf Course. The lessees would pay $5,000 a year to the CPHF. That amount would increase three percent each year. According to the proposal, the lessee would also make “a payment in lieu of property taxes to the Borough.”

Pat Cowan said that he has received offers for the property in the past, but he would prefer to sell it to someone who would keep the golf course operational.

“It’s very important. I would like for it to stay a golf course,” Cowan said.

Ensuring that the area was kept as a golf course would allow the CPHF to have fundraisers that benefited the community and the Central Peninsula Hospital, according to CPHF board president Ed Krohn.

“It’s a big part of the city. It seems like a very good recreational site,” Krohn said. “It could mean a lot to our citizenry, whether they’re inside the city or outside the city. (Having the recreational site) kind of falls into our mission statement which is to assist our local residents by keeping them healthier, out of the hospitals and keep them out active and moving.”

Upon acquiring the land, the CPHF would ask the city of Soldotna to rezone the area to “Recreational.”

“It would be a great resource for the city – now and in the future,” Krohn said.

Jim Bennett, a director on the CPHF board, said keeping the area as a golf course was important. He said that the area provided recreational opportunities for Soldotna citizens and was a beautiful attraction to the city.

“Soldotna is really unique, but a part of the uniqueness is Birch Ridge,” Bennett said. “I get really frightened when I think that we may lose (the golf course).”

Soldotna City Council member Linda Murphy agreed that keeping the area a golf course was beneficial to the city.

“The golf course is something so special that we won’t really know how special it was until we lose it,” Murphy said.

Murphy made full disclosure that she lives near the area and is a golfer.

The Soldotna City Council made no decision on the issue, and will discuss it at a later time.

Reach Ian Foley at Ian.foley@peninsulaclarion.com

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