Kenai City Manager Paul Ostrander speaks at a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Kenai Municipal Airport on Friday, Aug. 6, 2021 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai City Manager Paul Ostrander speaks at a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Kenai Municipal Airport on Friday, Aug. 6, 2021 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

‘I think everyone got it right’

Ribbon-cutting at Kenai Municipal Airport caps airport renovations

A crowd of about 50 people gathered outside the Kenai Municipal Airport to watch Kenai Mayor Brian Gabriel cut a ribbon signifying the completion of the rehabilitation of the airport terminal, a project years in the making. The ribbon-cutting was supposed to happen last year but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Opening remarks were delivered by Kenai City Manager Paul Ostrander, who called the project “long awaited” and said it modernizes the airport.

Between the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on travel and the bankruptcy of RavnAir Group, 2020 proved to be a difficult year for the airport, which usually sees more than 180,000 passengers travel in and out annually.

Kenai Mayor Brian Gabriel emphasized Friday the role the airport plays in connecting the peninsula to the rest of the state.

“Most of you are probably well aware that the airport to the City of Kenai is vitally important,” said Kenai Mayor Brian Gabriel. “It … makes us the hub for the Kenai Peninsula.”

Construction on the airport terminal, which was constructed in 1968, began in October 2020 and includes improvements to the terminal roof and the fire sprinkler system in addition to other deferred maintenance projects, according to city documents.

The project has been underway for years and resulted in the discovery of decades-old murals that had been hidden under metal panels following a previous expansion. It was funded in part with money from the Federal Aviation Administration, which Elaina Spraker, regional director for U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan, said Friday is demonstrative of how federal intervention in local projects should work.

“The completion of this project really illustrates the way federal funding is supposed to work,” Spraker said. “People expect that their hard-earned tax dollars are going to worthwhile programs.”

State Sen. Peter Micciche said he thinks the design of the project works well.

“Often with some of these designs, I kind of scratch my head and say ‘what were they thinking here?’” Micciche said. “But in this case, I think everyone got it right.”

Also in attendance at Friday’s ceremony were Kenai City Council members Henry Knackstedt, Jim Glendening and Glenese Pettey, former Kenai Municipal Airport Manager Mary Bondurant and State Rep. Ron Gillham.

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

Kenai Mayor Brian Gabriel speaks at a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Kenai Municipal Airport on Friday, Aug. 6, 2021 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Mayor Brian Gabriel speaks at a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Kenai Municipal Airport on Friday, Aug. 6, 2021 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Mayor Brian Gabriel speaks to community members at a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Kenai Municipal Airport on Friday, Aug. 6, 2021 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Mayor Brian Gabriel speaks to community members at a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Kenai Municipal Airport on Friday, Aug. 6, 2021 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

State Sen. Peter Micciche speaks at a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Kenai Municipal Airport on Friday, Aug. 6, 2021 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

State Sen. Peter Micciche speaks at a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Kenai Municipal Airport on Friday, Aug. 6, 2021 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

State Rep. Ron Gillham speaks at a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Kenai Municipal Airport on Friday, Aug. 6, 2021 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

State Rep. Ron Gillham speaks at a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Kenai Municipal Airport on Friday, Aug. 6, 2021 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

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