Graphic by Vincent Nusunginya/Peninsula Clarion

Graphic by Vincent Nusunginya/Peninsula Clarion

Kenai’s proposal for south beach road being permitted by Army Corps of Engineers

The city of Kenai’s plans for a road providing access to the southern bank of the mouth of the Kenai river are currently being permitted by the Army Corps of Engineers.

The 1,500 foot gravel road would lead from Bowpicker Lane through a city-owned wetland to the beach. Beach-front property owner Jason Yeoman said that the road is one solution to a problem he and his neighbors have experienced during Kenai’s personal use fishery in July.

“Almost every single person that went to the mouth of the river had to go through my property last year,” said Yeoman, whose home lies between the southern river mouth and the closest current access point at the end of Dunes Road. “If they want to get to the mouth of the river, they have to basically trespass private property.”

The proposed road would curve around Yeoman’s property and others in the area.

In addition to trespassing, the present route to the river mouth requires dipnetters to travel through tidal areas where vehicles can become stuck in soft sand and clay. According to Kenai’s permit application, the access road will provide safe access not only to dipnetters, but to maintenance, sanitation, and emergency vehicles that will service them.

An alternative plan avoids impact to the undeveloped wetland by routing the road around its border, through land that is currently in private ownership. The permits says that the city of Kenai has unsuccessfully tried to purchase this property.

The permit notice lists two measures that Kenai may take to mitigate environmental impact to the wetland surrounding the route of the currently proposed road: decreasing the roadbed area by lessening the extension of its sloped shoulders, and to compensate for the loss of habitat with a conservation easement preserving a 3.2 acre wetland area near Sea Catch Drive.

In order to serve the road’s expected dipnetting users, the construction will include electrical and data lines beneath the roadbed leading to a pair of fee stations by the beach entrance.

Yeoman said that nearby property owners hope the road will lessen the nuisance created by the large number of dipnetters traveling to the river mouth, which he said caused stress to his family and damage to his property.

“They’d be going up and down all night,” Yeoman said. “And there’s no noise buffer between our house and the beach, and so they’d keep the children up all night. Bonfires would be near the house. They’d be partying all night. Literally, there was one day that we had a band out there, with an amplifier, a lead singer, and drums.”

Yeoman said that litter was another problem arising from the lack of beach access.

“I’ve got many photos of feces on my property,” Yeoman said. “Because it’s a long way to go down the beach, so they’d just run up in my trees, or right by my house and just go to the bathroom there. Toilet paper everywhere. Broken bottles everywhere on my property.”

 

Reach Ben Boettger at ben.boettger@peninsulaclarion.com

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