Kenai wastewater treatment plant a future priority for funding

Kenai’s wastewater treatment plant is the city’s top priority for hopeful future funding in next year’s budget.

In its Wednesday meeting, the Kenai City Council designated a grant sought from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation for upgrades to the city wastewater treatment plant as the top priority for the state funding Kenai may receive in Fiscal Year 2017. Currently, the wastewater plant’s discharge into Cook Inlet exceeds the ammonia restrictions of a permit issued to Kenai by the DEC in June 2015. The permit requires the plant to be within its ammonia limit by August 2025.

According to the text of the ordinance passed Wednesday, the plant cannot meet the restrictions without “major upgrades.”

The ordinance states that design work for these upgrades, contracted to CH2M Hill, is approximately 65 percent complete.

The prioritized funding request will be submitted to DEC’s annual Municipal Matching Grant program. If chosen for a grant, DEC will fund 70 percent of the estimated $1.4 million cost of the wastewater plant upgrade. Kenai has unsuccessfully applied to the matching grant program for upgrade funding since 2012.

The absence of Council member Brian Gabriel prompted the removal of an approval item from Wednesday’s agenda: the creation of an ad-hoc committee to study the costs and feasibility of developing the vacant city-owned property known as “Millennium Square.” This bluff-top field, between the Kenai Senior Center and Bridge Access Road, has been the subject of speculative development plans since the Kenai Council named it in 2002.

In a July 9 memo to the Council, Gabriel had announced his intention to introduce an ordinance to appropriate $25,000 to study the possibility of building a park with a stage in Millennium Square.

In the memo, Gabriel proposed that the study be managed by “an ad-hoc committee” consisting of “business interests, performers, musicians, and other interested parties.”

The item will be on agenda for the council’s August 19 meeting.

The council’s last action of the meeting was to schedule a second work session on proposed code changes intended to make Kenai’s junk car code easier to enforce. The ordinance proposing the changes, submitted by City Manager Rick Koch, was debated by the council in a work session on July 21. At Wednesday’s meeting, Koch said the ordinance he now proposes is significantly different from the one previously seen by the council.

“There was a fairly robust discussion of the changes contemplated,” Koch said of the July 21 worksession. “Subsequent to that work session, there had been some changes made to that proposed ordinance that were fairly substantial.”

Koch said that the date of the council vote on the Ordinance was also subject to change, depending on the results of the work session, which will be held at 5:30 on Monday, September 14 at Kenai City Hall, located at 210 Fidalgo Avenue.



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