Kyle Kornelis speaks at a public meeting about the Runway 7-25 Rehabilitation Project on Tuesday, May 4, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Kyle Kornelis speaks at a public meeting about the Runway 7-25 Rehabilitation Project on Tuesday, May 4, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna plans capital improvements

Better downtown parking, more greenspace at Riverview Park, rubber mulch at Farnsworth Park and improvements to ARC Lake are among the projects the City of Soldotna hopes to accomplish in the next year.

That’s according to the city’s Five-Year Capital Improvement Plan, which the Soldotna City Council adopted unanimously during its Wednesday night meeting.

Capital improvement projects are usually one-time expenditures that cost more than $50,000 and result in a “tangible fixed asset.” Projects can either focus on the city’s immediate needs or anticipate future needs, according to a July 7 memo from Soldotna Public Works Director Kyle Kornelis.

In all, the capital improvement plan adopted as amended Wednesday identifies about $1.06 million in projects for the current fiscal year — July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2022 — that would be paid for from the city’s general fund.

Those projects include, among other things, $250,000 for the construction of public parking in downtown Soldotna, $45,000 to purchase and install rubber mulch at Farnsworth Park for fall protection and $15,000 to provide an off-street grass field at Riverview Park.

Just because a project appears on the city’s capital improvement plan doesn’t mean it has already been funded, Kornelis wrote. The plan is updated on an annual basis because not all projects receive necessary funding, with many dependent on nonlocal funding sources that are not guaranteed to the city.

“Availability of grant funds can vary with local, state, and federal economies, among other unpredictable factors,” Kornelis wrote. “Additionally, the City’s needs can, and do, change frequently.”

In a presentation to the council during its Wednesday work session, Kornelis provided updates on some of the projects the city is already working on or has completed.

The replacement of a damaged curb and pavement on Lovers Lane, the purchase and planting of 41 decorative trees in downtown and the construction of landscape curbs in front of Trustworthy Hardware, for example, are all projects the city has recently completed.

Meanwhile, the city is still working on projects such as improvements at the Soldotna Airport, which are fully funded by a grant from the Federal Aviation Administration, and the expansion of the Soldotna Community Memorial Park in response to a shortage of cemetery plots.

The resolution approved by the city council Wednesday describes the city’s capital improvement plan as a “long-range” document that offers guidance to the city on how to plan out and manage its capital and infrastructure assets. The plan is meant to show a “realistic” projection of the city’s anticipated capital needs and outlines project scheduling, financials and work parameters.

“The City of Soldotna’s 5-year CIP contains a wide range of projects that reflect priority infrastructure needs based on financial resources for the next five years,” the legislation says.

The plan was successfully amended during the council’s Wednesday meeting.

An amendment introduced by Council Member Jordan Chilson added $15,000 to be used for furniture and “other minor improvements” to the city council chambers to the plan’s list of projects for the current fiscal year.

Council Member Justin Ruffridge introduced a successful amendment bumping up improvements to ARC Lake from FY23 to FY22. Those improvements, estimated to cost around $60,000, include expanding parking at the lake, improving the lake’s beach area and starting preliminary work for a new trail.

Now that the resolution adopting the capital improvement plan has been approved by the city council, an ordinance describing the corresponding capital budget must be passed. Kornelis wrote that the city is planning to introduce that ordinance during the council’s July 28 meeting and to hold a public hearing and vote during the council’s Aug. 11 meeting.

Projects identified as priorities by the city for later fiscal years include nearly $2 million to reconstruct Marydale Avenue from Kenai Spur Highway to Kobuk Street, $5 million to expand the conference center at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex and $300,000 to replace the playground equipment at Soldotna Creek Park.

Council Member Dave Carey said during Wednesday’s council meeting that he was pleased with the magnitude of the work described by the plan.

“I challenge any other city in the State of Alaska of our size to do nearly, even close to, the amount of projects we’re doing within such a good budget scope,” Carey said. “[It’s] very pleasing to see so much work being done.”

Wednesday’s full work session and council meeting can be viewed on the City of Soldotna’s website at

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at

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