Pallet fires banned on Kenai beaches

By the middle of next summer, pallet fires will be illegal on Kenai’s beaches. On Wednesday the Kenai city council unanimously approved a ban on pallet fires — which can leave the sand strewn with nails and screws that might pop tires and pierce feet — which will become effective on July 1, 2018.

The ban on pallet burning was originally brought by Kenai administrators for the city council’s vote at their last meeting on Sept. 20. At that meeting, council member Tim Navarre successfully moved to postpone a vote, saying the nail problem should be addressed with a public education campaign rather than a ban.

This time around, Kenai administrators offered a substitute ordinance. In addition to delaying the ban’s effective date until July 2018, it replaced the original’s proposed penalty for pallet-burning — a flexible fine of up to $500, to be set in a mandatory court appearance — with a fixed fine of $50.

On Wednesday, Navarre said the substitute’s delayed start addressed his concerns by providing time for public education before starting enforcement. Kenai City Attorney Scott Bloom wrote in an attached memo that Kenai administrators plan to “provide adequate notice to the public” of the ban with signs and city website postings, as well as through the smartphone application the city introduced this year for disseminating information to dipnet fishery participants.

Navarre said that in the future, he might favor allowing pallet burning again if the leftover nails can be contained.

“Hopefully our city can create some gazebos, or pits, or rings, for people to actually be able to have fires on the beach,” Navarre said. “At that point, it’s possible that some material in a fire pit can have some metal if it has to. But we want to discourage that, and certainly where it can be up and down the beach and not be controlled in any one or two particular spots.”

Kenai Mayor Brian Gabriel agreed, saying “it might be worth looking at having a designated place down there to burn pallets.”

Reach Ben Boettger at ben.boettger@peninsulaclarion.com

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