Not just ‘the end of the road’

• Homer Spit Comp plan draft ready for comments from public
By Naomi Klouda
Homer Tribune

When the public was asked to weigh in on what to do with the Homer Spit, more than a few suggested making it a year-round destination instead of just a summer relic for the perusal of visitors.
Residents worry about the famed destination being set aside mainly for tourism. It actually has more potential for year-round jobs supplied through industries tied to its maritime attributes.
“The Spit is really Alaska’s jewel and should be a place for everyone,” one resident commented.
At the same time, comments came in that the Spit needs to be recognized as a unique bird habitat and protected for its view of Kachemak Bay. Even its rye grass needs better protection.
“There is an old attitude of industrial versus tourism versus commercial fishing on the Spit, and in reality, all three are important,” another person pointed out. “They each bring value and demonstrate we are an active, viable port, not just the end of the road.”
These are some of the findings in the year-long compilation of the Homer Comprehensive Plan. It is now updated and ready for public comment. The public can see the results of the plan and discuss it at an Oct. 13 meeting from 6 to 8:30 p.m. in the Homer City Hall council chambers.
The draft was completed after a series of workshops involving city staff, stakeholders and members of the public that began in April 2009. Consulting firm, USKH, put it together on a contract costing $65,000. The draft is available for reading online under the “Planning” link at www.ci.homer.ak.us and at the Homer Public Library.
The report gives an overview of the Spit’s history, its geographical features and an economic inventory. Divided into four parts, it takes a look at existing conditions, then offers a vision for the year 2030. Lastly is an implementation plan for what strategies to use for bringing about desired changes.
The “implementation” chapter carries a quote of warning about plans going to waste at the end of a long study project.
“An important issue is actually implementing a plan,” one long-time resident commented in the report. “I remember being at Land’s End in the 1980s at a community brainstorming. There were ideas galore, wall posters full, and actually some consensus to plan and do. Unfortunately, all these folks, including myself, all went back to jobs and lives without planning. ‘Coney Island’ emerged.”
The 42-page draft contains specific goals. The first one is to maintain the variety seen on the Spit, the mix of uses. In order to do that, certain areas need a rezoning visit to designate commercial, industrial and public facilities. There are work steps to take, such as identifying height limits on buildings, and asking individual businesses to join in with providing amenities such as bike racks, benches, picnic tables and trash cans. Who will complete the steps is also outlined. In many cases, the work falls on planning staff, the planning commission and the Port and Harbor Commission. The Homer Chamber of Commerce and leaseholders hold roles in the process as well.
Under the goal of improving the economic vitality of the Spit, the strategy is listed to “encourage development related to fishing, fish processing and boating industries.” It also advises to host an economic development forum, and enlist the aid of the Alaska Economic Development Corporation — as well as businesses — in order to pursue more job-growth on the Spit.
And finally, much is suggested on protecting the natural environment by managing conservation areas and implementing better earth-friendly measures.
The last time the Spit plan was updated was in 1999, but Planning Director Rick Abboud said this version is more comprehensive. In this draft, planning staff reviewed goals listed in previous versions and carried some over to the new draft. Abboud is hoping people who want to make comments will have read the draft prior to making their comments.

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Posted by on Oct 6th, 2010 and filed under Headline News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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