By Carey Restino
The current budget presented by city staff doesn’t include a parks and recreation needs assessment study, and that doesn’t sit well with those involved in a recent push to improve Homer’s recreation offerings.
Matt Steffy, a Homer Parks and Recreation Commission member, testified before the council about the importance of the recreation assessment at this time. The last one was done in the mid-80s, he noted, and in the absence of a comprehensive plan, the city runs a high risk of making uniformed decisions that may not be in the best interests of the community, he said.
Parks and recreation has been growing in focus in recent years, with a great deal of community support for the revitalization of the Karen Hornaday Park last summer as well as the recently envisioned community center concept.
Steffy pointed out that the assessment is a one-time expense “estimated at around $50,000” and is important as a community resource, as parks facilities and recreation programs have been linked with improved quality of life for residents.
“Recently there has been a groundwell of community interest regarding the recreational resources available in Homer,” he said. “I urge the city council to please keep this item on the table as you move through the budget process.”
Another recreation-related item on the agenda was the reconsideration of a resolution terminating all survey, design and cost estimated work on the Kachemak Drive Pathway. The original resolution, which was brought forward by city Mayor Beth Wythe, was voted down but it was brought back to the table by Councilmember Francie Roberts, drawing testimony from several members of the public in support of moving forward with the proposed pathway.
Lindianne Sarno, a member of the committee focusing its efforts on the Kachemak Drive path, said she is constantly asked about how progress is going with the Kachemak Drive nonmoterized path and asked the council not to reconsider its previous action against the path.
Council agreed with Sarno, voting the resolution down again.
In other news, the council:
• Held a swearing in ceremony for re-elected councilman Bryan Zak and newly elected councilman Gus Van Dyke. Van Dyke will sit in his first meeting two meetings from this week’s, but wasn’t available to be sworn in at the next meeting, which would be the last for outgoing councilman James Dolma, who did not seek re-election.
Dolma encouraged the community to get involved in its city government, either through running for office or sitting on the many boards and commissions.
ìThereís lots of things to do,î he said. ìCome on down and volunteer.î
• Heard a report form Kenai Peninsula Borough Assemblyman Bill Smith nothing that the boroughís Capital Improvement List included requests from the state for money for road improvement as well as help to contain and eradicate a dangerous plant infestation which would be very difficult to remove from lakes such as the Bridge Creek Reservoir if it got in there. The list also includes a request for funds for a new generator for Seldovia to provide backup power when the electric lines are compromised on the south side of Kachemak Bay. As well, the borough continues to move forward with its efforts to cap the landfill on Baycrest Hill, a project that will take 15 years or more, he said.
The council meets again on Oct. 28.
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