City to install boating safety signs at Kenai River mouth

Boaters on the Kenai River will soon get a gentle safety reminder when entering or exiting the harbor.

At a May 2 meeting, Kenai City Council offered no objections to a proposal to install safety signs asking boaters to minimize their wake when passing through the mouth of the river.

The proposal was based on recommendations put forward by the Harbor Commission in April, which asked the city council to approve two seasonal “No Wake Zone” signs. The Harbor Commission began exploring the idea out of concerns about the dangers to boaters and waders, and potential bluff erosion caused by large wakes, Chair Christine Hutchison said.

“We wanted to raise awareness that this could be a safety issue,” she said.

The plan to install new signs differs from the initial proposal put forward by the Harbor Commission, which called for a no-wake zone, City Council Bob Molloy said.

“This is kind of like a warning to be mindful,” Molloy said.

The city would have a limited ability to enforce a no-wake zone, which under current municipal code limits speeds to 5 miles per hour, according to an April 27 memo sent to the city council by City Manager Paul Ostander.

Commercial fishing boats would likely be unable to adhere to a strict no-wake zone during certain tide stages or weather events, Ostrander wrote in the memo.

Instead of “No Wake,” as requested by the Harbor Commission, the new signs will bear the message, “Be Safe. Minimize Your Wake.”

“This will accomplish the intent of informing boat users at the mouth of the Kenai River that it is important for them to minimize their wake, without creating the enforcement and safety issues that would be created by formalizing a no wake zone,” Ostrander wrote.

One sign will be placed on the North Beach immediately upriver of No Name Creek and one on South Beach, at the upriver extent of the beach. The total cost for both signs, which will stay up year round, is about $2,400.

Funding for the signs would come from the personal use fishery fund.

Molloy said he wasn’t aware of an exact timeline for installing the signs, but because funding had already been identified, he expected the city to move on the proposal soon.

Along with the new signs, the city administration will provide educational boating safety information in the city’s dipnet app and provide safety handouts at the fee station at the city’s boat launch.

Reach Erin Thompson at ethompson@peninsulaclarion.com.

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