The Kenai River flows near Soldotna Creek Park in Soldotna, Alaska, on Wednesday, April 10, 2024. The Riverfront Redevelopment project will impact much of Soldotna’s riverside areas downstream to the bridge. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

The Kenai River flows near Soldotna Creek Park in Soldotna, Alaska, on Wednesday, April 10, 2024. The Riverfront Redevelopment project will impact much of Soldotna’s riverside areas downstream to the bridge. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna riverfront redevelopment planning moves forward

Soldotna City Council on Monday unanimously approved the creation of a project manager to shepherd the Riverfront Redevelopment Project

The Soldotna City Council on Wednesday unanimously approved the creation of a project manager to shepherd the Riverfront Redevelopment Project — a move Vice Mayor Lisa Parker called “the critical first step” to seeing the project realized.

The project has been in development for more than two years, and would redevelop 85 acres of land between the Sterling Highway and the Kenai River. A draft plan published in February describes expanding walkable pathways in the area — which stretches roughly from Soldotna Creek Park downstream to the bridge — and addition of plazas, parks, marketspace.

As described by Parker, a “master plan” attached as an appendix to the draft plan describes the need for a coordinator to manage the project as the very first “time-sensitive project” on the way to starting development.

In presenting the proposed ordinance to the council, Soldotna Director of Economic Development and Planning John Czarnezki said the move was important to keep “momentum” as the project proceeds.

He said the position would be a consultant “working very closely” with Soldotna’s administration, council and planning commission. They would be responsible for communicating with the many involved parties — like the landowners already in the space targeted for redevelopment. They would also develop strategies for implementation of the plan, facilitate studies and analysis and seek grant further “funding opportunities.”

The ordinance called for a budget of $125,000. City Manager Janette Bower said the position is expected to be necessary for “at least one year, perhaps longer.” The city will solicit proposals for the work to select the consultant.

Council member Dan Nelson said he supported the step because the project’s complexity demands a dedicated focus.

“I think it is too large in scope and too complicated for existing staff to try and take on in order to keep their other duties and other projects on task,” he said. “I think its a good step in the right direction.”

Information about the project, including the draft plan and archived video of city council meetings, can be found at soldotna.org.

This story was edited Friday to correct the date of the Soldotna City Council meeting, which was held Wednesday.

Reach reporter Jake Dye at jacob.dye@peninsulaclarion.com.

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