This November 14, 2015 photo shows the interior of the Kenai Bowling alley, which closed in September 2015, in Kenai. The bowling alley is now owned by the city of Kenai, which will soon begin seeking management for it. (Ben Boettger/Peninsula Clarion)

This November 14, 2015 photo shows the interior of the Kenai Bowling alley, which closed in September 2015, in Kenai. The bowling alley is now owned by the city of Kenai, which will soon begin seeking management for it. (Ben Boettger/Peninsula Clarion)

Future of Kenai bowling alley in limbo

Members of the public came out Wednesday night to urge Kenai City Council members to support Charlotte Yamada’s effort to reopen Kenai’s bowling alley.

Yamada updated the council on recent actions she’s taken to gather funding for the bowling alley, which would help fund equipment updates. Yamada has been working towards reopening the bowling alley since it closed in late 2015.

“It is taking a long time to get this process done,” Yamada said. “It’s a very specific business we are trying to get back up and on its feet, and that in and of itself is kind of what we are fighting against.”

Because of the specificity of the business, and because there are so few bowling alleys in the state, getting funding to update the building to code and to buy equipment is proving difficult.

The Kenai City Council held an executive session at the end of their Wednesday meeting to discuss a request for renegotiation of terms regarding the sale of the bowling alley property. The council unanimously passed a motion authorizing the city manager to renegotiate the terms of the bowling alley opportunity. The administration came to no decision but said at the meeting they are going to continue negotiating with the owner of the building, Sue Chang, and her business partner Yamada.

Yamada said Thursday that progress with the bowling alley is up in the air. At Wednesday’s meeting, she was optimistic about the bowling alley’s potential.

“It does lend itself to being just what our community needs,” Yamada said. “I’m just crazy enough to jump on board.”

The bowling alley was built in 1984 as Kenai Bowl. It sat on city-owned land in Kenai’s airport reserve, and the owners paid an annual lease, which went to support the Kenai Municipal Airport. Most recently, Ken Liedes, who operated the business as Alaskalanes, owned the bowling alley. The Clarion previously reported his annual lease to the city was $27,000, which he defaulted on before shutting the alley’s doors in late 2015. The city reclaimed the building and sold it for $450,000 in February of last year to Anchorage-based commercial real estate consultant Dean You.

Kenai resident Teea Winger also spoke to the council in support of the bowling business. She said bowling league dues alone would offer a significant profit to the bowling alley. Winger said it would cost her $2,500 in dues for one bowling season. With 12 lanes and four to five people on a team in each lane, she said the bowling alley would have a strong market.

“We’re trying to definitely build up the city of Kenai,” Winger said. “Between this, and the arcade that’s going in, this will really give a lot more activity to the Kenai area than we’ve seen in the past.”

Jeanie Carter, Yamada’s aunt, said the bowling alley would be another place for young people to hang out in the community.

“It’s really nice to know that there’s going to be somewhere else you can go as a couple or as a family besides the movies or out to eat,” Carter said. “That starts adding up dollar wise and weight wise. I have two special needs kids that are very active and I would love to see another place for them to go.”

RaeEllen Kurzendoerfer is a Kenai resident, mother and educator. She also sees the bowling alley as another option for the community’s youth.

“I have six children of my own… My two younger boys are always asking me ‘mom when can we bowling?’ andIhave to tell them that we have to go all the way to Anchorage to go bowling,” Kurzendoefer said. “It’s been a huge part of our community and I think with the Yamadas running the business it will flourish for the youth in our community.”

Reach Victoria Petersen at vpetersen@peninsulaclarion.com.

A broken pin sits on a workbench in the backroom of the Kenai bowling on Saturday, Nov. 14 in Kenai. The bowling alley is now owned by the city of Kenai, which will soon begin seeking management for it. (Ben Boettger/Peninsula Clarion)

A broken pin sits on a workbench in the backroom of the Kenai bowling on Saturday, Nov. 14 in Kenai. The bowling alley is now owned by the city of Kenai, which will soon begin seeking management for it. (Ben Boettger/Peninsula Clarion)

Pinsetting machines installed in the 1980s stand in the backroom of the Kenai bowling alley on Saturday, Nov. 14 in Kenai. The bowling alley is now owned by the city of Kenai, which will soon begin seeking management for it. (Ben Boettger/Peninsula Clarion)

Pinsetting machines installed in the 1980s stand in the backroom of the Kenai bowling alley on Saturday, Nov. 14 in Kenai. The bowling alley is now owned by the city of Kenai, which will soon begin seeking management for it. (Ben Boettger/Peninsula Clarion)

Future of Kenai bowling alley in limbo

Pinsetting machines installed in the 1980s stand in the backroom of the Kenai bowling alley on Saturday, Nov. 14 in Kenai. The bowling alley is now owned by the city of Kenai, which will soon begin seeking management for it. (Ben Boettger/Peninsula Clarion)

More in News

Drummers perform during a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Dena’ina Wellness Center in Kenai, Alaska, on Friday, July 12, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenaitze tribe celebrates 10 years of ‘far-fetched dream’ at wellness center

Community members recognized the work done at the Dena’ina Wellness Center over the past decade

The Kenai Safeway is seen on Wednesday, July 20, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai and Soldotna Safeways may be sold under proposed Kroger-Albertsons merger

The local stores will be sold to CS Wholesale Grocers only if the merger overcomes suit from the FTC

Sockeye salmon caught in a set gillnet are dragged up onto the beach at a test site for selective harvest setnet gear in Kenai, Alaska, on Tuesday, July 25, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Draft plan published for disbursement of $11.5 million in 2021 and 2022 ESSN disasters

Public comment will be accepted for the draft spend plan until July 24

The Kasilof River is seen from the Kasilof River Recreation Area, July 30, 2019, in Kasilof, Alaska. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)
King salmon fishing closed on Kasilof starting Monday

The emergency order is being issued to protect returning king salmon, citing weak returns

Soldotna City Hall is seen on Wednesday, June 23, 2021, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna’s city council appropriates funds for FY 2025 capital projects

Improvements are described for streets, police facility, Soldotna Creek Park and Soldotna Community Memorial Park

Gina Plank processes sockeye salmon caught on the first day of Kenai River dipnetting with her table set up on the bank of the Kenai River in Kenai, Alaska, on Wednesday, July 10, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai River open for dipnetting

As of Tuesday, a total of 226,000 sockeye had been counted in the Kenai River’s late run

Assembly Vice President Tyson Cox speaks during a meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly in Soldotna, Alaska, on Tuesday, June 18, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Assembly won’t pursue further discussion on tabled bed tax resolution

Members say they’re going to work on a new version of the idea this winter

Gov. Mike Dunleavy pictured with members of the House majority after signing the fiscal year 2025 budget bills, Thursday, June 27, 2024, in Anchorage, Alaska. From left to right: Reps. Stanley Wright, Tom McKay, Thomas Baker, Craig Johnson, Kevin McCabe, Julie Coulombe and Laddie Shaw. (Photo provided by Office of the Governor)
Dunleavy signs capital budget with $3.7M in state funding for Kenai Peninsula, vetoes $3.3M

Roughly $90 million in federal funding also allocated to Kenai Peninsula

Alaska State Troopers logo.
Soldotna man arrested Friday after 30-minute police chase

The man had an outstanding warrant for felony probation violation

Most Read