Terry Eubank (left) and Paul Ostrander (right) address the Kenai City Council during a budget work session on Saturday, April 24, 2021 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Terry Eubank (left) and Paul Ostrander (right) address the Kenai City Council during a budget work session on Saturday, April 24, 2021 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

‘Untapped potential:’ Kenai looks to revive waterfront, develop business community

The City of Kenai is preparing to move forward with projects aimed at revitalizing the waterfront along Bridge Access Road and encouraging economic development in the city.

The programs are described in the city’s “Imagine Kenai 2030” comprehensive plan, which was approved by the Kenai City Council in 2016 and by the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly in 2017. The plan, among other things, is meant to provide the city with a vision for the future, serve as a decision-making tool, and promote and support economic development.

The plan identifies eight general city goals that address quality of life, economic development, land use, parks and recreation, and public improvements and services, among others. Revitalization of the waterfront and creation of incentives for economic development are specifically described in the plan.

Former Kenai Mayor Pat Porter wrote in a 2016 update to the city’s “Imagine Kenai 2030” plan that updates were aimed at making the plan responsive to new changes and new opportunities.

“Economic development and the implementation of business-friendly regulations and incentives have also been incorporated into the update to, create a stable, positive climate for private investment,” Porter wrote.

In a June 29 memo to the Kenai City Council, Kenai City Manager Paul Ostrander describes the investment opportunities revitalizing the waterfront would attract.

“The untapped potential and importance of Kenai’s unique, defining natural asset near the mouth of the Kenai River has catalytic possibilities for large-scale waterfront development on vacant or abandoned sites previously utilized by commercial fishing processors,” Ostrander wrote in the memo.

That revitalization would rely on partnerships between the city and private entities that own pieces of relevant land. Ostrander wrote that while the city will be able to provide “strategic” infrastructure investments, it would be “premature” to propose specific projects that may not support the revitalization of the area.

Before any revitalization work could begin, however, city administration is recommending that the Kenai City Council approve funding for a feasibility study, which would analyze the different aspects of the project and offer recommendations. Recommendations may include changing city code and regulations, or suggesting partnerships the city should pursue as part of the project.

Though Ostrander expects waterfront revitalization and economic development incentive programs to work together to create a better environment for Kenai businesses, they will go through separate legislative processes. If the council adheres to a draft timeline presented to them earlier this month, legislation funding the waterfront feasibility study would be introduced at the council’s Aug. 18 meeting with a public hearing and vote during the council’s Sept. 1 meeting.

The introduction of legislation outlining potential business development incentive programs would occur during the council’s Nov. 3 meeting with a public hearing and vote during the council’s Dec. 1 meeting.

Proposed incentive programs described by city documents include, in addition to waterfront revitalization, exempting economic developments from city property tax, which the plan says would incentivize capital investment, and exempting depreciating properties from city tax, which would encourage the development of deteriorating buildings.

More information about the programs can be found on the city of Kenai’s website at kenai.city.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

More in News

Alaska Rep. David Eastman, a Republican from Wasilla, sits at his desk on the Alaska House floor in Juneau, Alaska, on March 5, 2020. Alaska lawmakers are discussing whether to sanction Eastman who is also a member of the Oath Keepers far-right paramilitary organization according to the Anchorage Daily News. Eastman, who is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, confirmed with the Associated Press, Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022, that he joined the Oath Keepers a little over 12 years ago, “along with 38,000 others who have committed to honoring oaths we have taken.” (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer, File)
State lawmaker could be sanctioned over Oath Keeper ties

Eastman was identified as a “life member” of the Oath Keepers last year

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
As cases surge, public health officials contemplate how to live with virus

Contact tracing and data collection will have to be reworked if COVID is here to stay

Upper Cook Inlet Exclusive Economic Zone can be seen on this map provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (Image via fisheries.noaa.gov)
Soldotna approves filing of EEZ lawsuit brief

The lawsuit seeks to reopen commercial salmon fishing in the Upper Cook Inlet Exclusive Economic Zone

University of Alaska Interim President Pat Pitney, bottom left, spoke to UA students in a virtual forum on Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022, and was joined by several UA administrators including UA Southeast President Karen Carey, bottom left, and UA Anchorage Vice Chancellor Bruce Schultz, top left. At top right, an American Sign Language professional provides translation services. (Screenshot)
UA President: University has turned a corner on funding

System sees modest increase in budget for first time in years

Sen. Shelley Hughes, R-Palmer; Senate President Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna; Sen. Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak and Sen. Click Bishop, R-Fairbanks, spoke to reporters Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022, immediately following Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s State of the State address. Members of the Senate Republican leadership said they appreciated the governor’s optimism, and hoped it signaled a better relationship between the administration and the Legislature. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Lawmakers welcome tone change in governor’s address

With caveats on financials, legislators optimistic about working together

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
COVID deaths, hospitalizations climb statewide

The total number of statewide COVID deaths is nearly equivalent to the population of Funny River.

A fisher holds a reel on the Kenai River near Soldotna on June 30, 2021. (Photo by Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Restrictions on sport fishing announced

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced summer sport fishing regulations Wednesday

Community agencies administer social services to those in need during the Project Homeless Connect event Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna on Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
‘It’s nice to be able to help folks’

Project Homeless Connect offers services, supplies to those experiencing housing instability

Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce attends the March 2, 2021, borough assembly meeting at the Betty J. Glick Assembly Chambers at the Borough Administration Building in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Former talk-show host to manage Pierce gubernatorial campaign

Jake Thompson is a former host of KSRM’s Tall, Dark and Handsome Show and Sound-off talk-show

Most Read