A sign describing bluff erosion is seen on Kenai North Beach in Kenai, Alaska, on Aug. 6, 2020. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

A sign describing bluff erosion is seen on Kenai North Beach in Kenai, Alaska, on Aug. 6, 2020. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai bluff stabilization takes step forward with city’s land purchase

The City of Kenai will buy two pieces of land along the Kenai River for their stabilization project

The City of Kenai will buy two pieces of land along the Kenai River as part of their Kenai Bluffs Bank Stabilization project following a city council vote in favor of the purchase last Wednesday.

The two pieces of land will be bought from landowners Kenai River Brewing Company and Deborah Jean Browne.

For the land owned by the Kenai River Brewing Company, the city will pay $2,500 in addition to an estimated $510 in closing costs for a total of $3,010. For the land owned by Deborah Jean Browne, the city will pay $7,530 in addition to an estimated $510 in closing costs for a total of $8,040.

Kenai City Manager Paul Ostrander said at the Nov. 4 meeting that the acquisition of the two properties was “a big step forward” in acquiring the properties needed for the project.

Ostrander said that there are four other properties that the city is trying to acquire. One of the properties may not be needed for the project, one of the properties is part of an estate whose manager the city is having difficulty contacting and the other two have owners who are not interested in selling.

Regarding the landowners uninterested in selling, Ostrander said the problem will be addressed as needed as the project proceeds and that they may be able to work around the properties.

“In conversations with several of the landowners, I think that they’re seeing this as an opportunity to potentially get a significant amount more for the property than what it’s worth,” Ostrander said. “The option that I would prefer as much as anything, and I think is certainly possible in several cases, is to design around those properties.”

The Kenai Bluffs Bank Stabilization Project involves stabilizing about 5,000 feet of bluff on the north shore of the Kenai River, starting near the mouth of the river and ending near Pacific Star Seafoods. In an effort to counteract the impacts of erosion, the “tentatively selected solution” involves building a berm at the base of the bluff designed to prevent flood tides from washing away material that collects at the base, according to the city’s webpage dedicated to the project. The berm will also prevent storm damage to the bottom of the bluff.

Once the berm has been constructed, the idea is that as the bluff continues to erode, soil that ends up at the bottom of the bluff will accumulate and develop a bluff face slope that is more stable. The stabilization process is estimated to take up to 15 years. According to the city, a more stable bluff can encourage increased vegetation, which will further stabilize it.

According to previous Clarion reporting, the project entered the design phase in September of this year.

More information about the Kenai Bluffs Bank Stabilization project can be found at https://www.kenai.city/publicworks/page/kenai-bluffs-bank-stabilization-project.

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

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