Members of the Kenai City Council participate in a council meeting on Wednesday, March 16, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Members of the Kenai City Council participate in a council meeting on Wednesday, March 16, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Boys & Girls Clubs looks to city for expansion property

The group is asking the city to consider donating land to a potential property

The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Kenai Peninsula is looking to relocate, and it wants the city’s help. Jeff Dolifka, the president of the organization’s board, pitched plans for expansion to members of the Kenai City Council during their April 6 meeting.

The group currently operates out of a building on Frontage Road in Kenai, but also facilitates a teen center at the Kenai Rec Center. Since opening its doors on the peninsula in 1988, the organization has expanded to seven clubs in five communities, Dolifka said.

“We want to do a heck of a lot more,” Dolifka said.

The organization’s current shared-space setup in Kenai has presented “several challenges,” Dolifka said, such as coordinating with other groups using the space and differing protocols when it comes to things like COVID-19.

“We kind of realized that without our own clubhouse, we could be closed down by factors outside of our control,” Dolifka said.

The organization has its sights set on a building currently being used for the Kenai Community Care Center. Dolifka said that group reached out a few months ago and allowed the Boys & Girls Clubs to tour the site. Among the benefits of moving into the building, Dolifka told council members, is that they would not have to construct new facilities and would allow club headquarters to remain in Kenai.

However, Dolifka said the site footprint is smaller than what they’re looking for: There’s no parking and little room for expansion. Adjacent to the property are pieces of land owned by the City of Kenai, which Dolifka said the organization is asking the city to donate.

Among the new services Dolifka said the club could make available with the property are an expanded a soccer field and playground, as well as a kitchen, classrooms, a greenhouse and art rooms. However, he said the plan is to engage the community to help clarify needs.

Dolifka said that his hope is to have a formal presentation up for council consideration at its next meeting, noting that the Kenai Community Care Center is looking to leave the building quickly.

Council member Henry Knackstedt said he’d like to see Dolifka work with city administration to put together a plan that addresses, in addition to the land donation request, other metrics that would come up during the process, such as platting, rights of way and assessed land value.

“I think it needs to come together as one cohesive plan of what you want to do,” Knackstedt said.

Other council members agreed that they’d like to see more information. Kenai City Manager Paul Ostrander said he hoped to get a general sense from council members whether the request was something they’d like to see formally presented before putting a legislation package together.

“If we get a sense from council tonight that you’re generally supportive of pursuing this further — not necessarily committing yourself to passing legislation, but supportive of administration bringing something formal forward … we’ll prepare that potentially for the next meeting,” Ostrander said.

The Kenai City Council’s full Wednesday meeting can be viewed on the City of Kenai’s YouTube channel.

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

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