Kate Cox, 12, testifies before the Kenai City Council on Wednesday, June 16, 2021 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Kate Cox, 12, testifies before the Kenai City Council on Wednesday, June 16, 2021 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Council, public voice support for Triumvirate land donation

The land is located near Daubenspeck Park by the Kenai Walmart.

Kenai City Council members and members of the public voiced their support of a conditional donation of Kenai land to Triumvirate Theatre to help with its rebuilding efforts.

The legislation up for consideration by the council during their June 16 meeting would conditionally donate a piece of city land on which Triumvirate could build its theater. The land is located near Daubenspeck Park by the Kenai Walmart.

The theater burned down earlier this year.

Triumvirate President Joe Rizzo wrote in a letter to the council that he expects Triumvirate will need about 2 acres for its new facility, which would include enough room for its playhouse and a parking lot.

Rizzo has called the city’s donation of land “critical” to a Tier 2 grant the theater plans to apply for that is offered by the Rasmuson Foundation. Triumvirate is using $25,000 it received via a Tier 1 grant from the foundation for architectural and design work. Rizzo said Wednesday he plans to have architectural designs of the new facility to provide to the council during their July 7 meeting.

Kate Cox, the 12-year-old daughter of Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly member Tyson Cox, asked the council to support the legislation. She said she has previously been a part of Triumvirate productions, her favorite being “Magic Tree House – Pirates Past Noon,” in which she played a pirate.

“I have been in a lot of plays with Triumvirate since I was 8 years old,” Cox said. “I really love meeting new people and getting the chance to get out of my comfort zone. I would really appreciate it if you would help the theater and donate the land.”

Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District Tim Dillon told the council that donating the land would offer a “substantial benefit” to the community and be a good financial investment. Kenai would receive sales tax from tickets sold at the theater and things bought at local retailers, as well as property taxes paid by the theater.

“[The theater] provides an investment in the community itself and the fabric of what Kenai is all about,” Dillon said.

Multiple council members also voiced their support for the donation.

Council member Henry Knackstedt said both of his children participated in theater when they were young and he sees “absolutely no downside” to the donation.

“From the city side, it’s great for the city and it’s great for the theater,” Knackstedt said. “There is no downside.”

Council member Teea Winger said she agreed with other comments in support and said she would vote to support the donation.

“There’s just so much value to bringing this into the city and to be supporting this,” Winger said. “There’s so much it offers the youth.”

The council voted unanimously to postpone the legislation until their July 7 meeting, which will give the Kenai Planning and Zoning Commission time to review it before the council’s final vote.

Wednesday’s full council meeting can be viewed on the city’s YouTube page.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

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