From left: Kenai City Manager Paul Ostrander, Kenai City Council member Henry Knackstedt and Kenai Vice Mayor James Baisden listen to public testimony during a city council meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

From left: Kenai City Manager Paul Ostrander, Kenai City Council member Henry Knackstedt and Kenai Vice Mayor James Baisden listen to public testimony during a city council meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Draft plan maps out future Kenai capital projects

The two largest projects described in the draft plan are the bluff stabilization project and the airport runway rehabilitation project

Roughly $130 million worth of projects are described in a draft capital improvement plan presented to Kenai City Council members during a work session Wednesday.

Capital improvement projects are typically one-time expenditures that are expected to cost more than $35,000 and will be useful for more than one year, according to the plan draft. Projects are categorized by which of the city’s six funds would pay for them.

In addition to the general fund, which is the city’s catchall fund used to pay for basic operations, the city controls special revenue funds that all have their own streams of revenue and annual operating budgets, and as a result their own capital projects.

Across all funds, the City of Kenai’s top capital priorities for the upcoming fiscal year include runway rehabilitation at the Kenai Municipal Airport, the Kenai Bluff Stabilization Project, construction of a pump house at the city’s water treatment facility and maintenance work at Vintage Pointe.

Kenai City Manager Paul Ostrander said during Wednesday’s work session that the city’s goal is to have a resolution through which the capital improvement plan can be approved for council consideration in mid-January. Waiting until then, Ostrander said, will give city commissioners and council members time to provide feedback to city administration.

Kenai Public Works Director Scott Curtin told attendees that the city prepared the draft plan a couple of months earlier this year so that the city has more time to prepare the plan for submission to the State of Alaska’s grant funding program, called CAPSIS.

The two largest projects described in the draft plan presented to council members Wednesday are the bluff stabilization project and the airport runway rehabilitation project.

Stabilization of the Kenai bluff has long been the city’s top capital priority. Decades in the works, significant financial gains were made this year after U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski secured $28 million in federal funding for the project. Gov. Mike Dunleavy also included $6.5 million in this year’s state budget for the project.

The city estimates the total cost of the bluff stabilization project to be about $35 million, of which the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has agreed to cover 65%. Using that cost estimate, the city’s local match amounts to about $12.25 million, to be covered by the $6.5 million from the state, other grants and the city’s general fund. The city hopes to put the project out to bid in April.

Also in fiscal year 2024, which begins on July 1, 2023, and ends on June 30, 2024, the city hopes to tackle the rehabilitation of Runway 2L/20R at the Kenai Municipal Airport. That project, estimated to cost around $23.8 million, will be covered almost entirely by a $22.3 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration.

When it comes to some of Kenai’s other priorities, particularly those within the city’s Water & Sewer Fund, Curtin urged council members to participate in the State of Alaska’s revolving fund, through which the city would receive low-interest loans to complete projects. Because the fund would require the city to take on debt, participation would require voter approval, Curtin said.

“It is my overwhelming recommendation to council that we figure out a way to get access to those funds,” Curtin said. “Everybody else in the state is using those funds and we should be using them also. If I do get access to those (funds), these projects will get completed.”

Also in the upcoming fiscal year, the city plans to make $135,000 worth of repairs to the concrete of the boat ramp at the city dock, further remove spruce bark beetle-killed trees from city park areas, and seal cracks along city streets.

Other large projects the city has mapped out for the next five fiscal years include the rehabilitation of more airport taxiways, improvements to the Waste Water Plant’s operations building and the redesign and construction of better pedestrian access between Kenai Middle School, Kenai High School, the Challenger Learning Center and the city ice rink.

A copy of the City of Kenai’s draft capital improvement plan can be found on the city’s website at

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at

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