Potholes are seen on Wildwood Drive on Thursday, April 22, 2021, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Potholes are seen on Wildwood Drive on Thursday, April 22, 2021, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai plan maps out future city capital projects

The plan approved last week covers fiscal years 2025-2029

The rehabilitation of one of Kenai’s roughest roads is at the top of the city’s capital project list for the upcoming fiscal year. Long-awaited repairs to Wildwood Drive replace the Kenai Bluff Stabilization Project, which was contracted this month, at the top of the city’s list of capital priorities to be paid from the city general fund.

Kenai’s Capital Improvement Plan — approved by Kenai City Council members last Wednesday, Feb. 7 — maps out what capital projects the city wants to complete in each of the next five fiscal years. The plan approved this week covers fiscal years 2025-2029. Capital projects refer to those projects that usually require a one-time expenditure of more than $35,000.

The plan is grouped by fund and covers airport, water and sewer, senior citizens, congregate housing and personal use fishery projects in addition to those paid for out of the general fund.

From its Airport Fund, for example, the city hopes to rehabilitate the primary runway at the Kenai Municipal Airport such that it complies with modern standards. The project will involve milling the existing runway and placing new asphalt and is estimated to cost about $25 million. Of that, the city expects to receive about $23.8 million in grant funds in mid-2025. The city expects to be on the hook for the remaining $424,000.

Over the next five years, the city has identified improvements to the airport’s perimeter fence and parking lot, updating the airport master plan and rehabilitation of eight taxiways as priority projects.

The plan describes $1.365 million worth of water and sewer projects for the upcoming fiscal year, including the replacement of two existing operator trucks, renovations to certain sewer lift stations and design work for the replacement of a wastewater treatment plant building.

Major projects slated for completion over the next five fiscal years include water main valve and line replacements, repairs to the airport’s exterior reservoir tank and updates to the city’s utility digital mapping software. In all, the plan describes $5.63 million worth of projects for the next five fiscal years.

From Kenai’s senior citizens fund, the capital improvement plan approved Wednesday describes $90,000 worth of projects for the upcoming fiscal year, including $50,000 worth of repairs to the center’s canopy roof and $40,000 for the first phase of the center’s landscaping project. The second phase of that project, slated for fiscal year 2026, is the only other project described by the plan.

Money in the city’s congregate housing fund is designated in the plan for the replacement of carpet at Vintage Point, remodels of the apartment kitchens and bathrooms and replacement of exterior doors.

The only project identified in the plan for the city’s personal use fishery fund is $350,000 worth of improvements to the city boat ramp for the upcoming fiscal year. The planned work includes repairs to the ramp’s concrete and float replacements.

The city’s general fund, though, is where most of the capital spending is slated to be in the plan approved Wednesday. Roughly $14.1 million worth of projects are outlined for the next five fiscal years, $2.7 million of which is slated for the upcoming fiscal year.

The most expensive general fund project for the upcoming fiscal year is the $1 million rehabilitation of Wildwood Drive, which some city officials have dubbed “the worst road in Kenai.” Kenai has previously sought financial assistance from the State of Alaska to repair the road’s extensive potholes and cracks, arguing that it is heavily trafficked by state vehicles accessing Wildwood Correctional Complex.

The capital plan says the city estimates $800,000 of the total $1 million needed for the project will come from a State of Alaska grant. The city has previously appropriated money for the project that can pay for the remaining costs.

Other capital projects slated for fiscal year 2025 include the rehabilitation of Lilac Street, improvements to city streetlights and creation of a master plan for the city’s parks and recreation department. Across the next five fiscal years, projects include stormwater improvements, relocation of the city’s parks and recreation department to the Daubenspeck Park area and construction of a new roof for the city’s multipurpose facility.

Inclusion of a project in the city’s capital improvement plan doesn’t mean that the city has secured adequate funding to complete it. Rather, the document is used for planning purposes and for the city to recognize capital needs.

Kenai’s full plan can be accessed on the city’s website at kenai.city.

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

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