In defense of money spent on trail study

By Beth Cummings

My comments relate to Chris Story’s Point of View column in the Sept. 25 Homer Tribune. Headlined, “How to drown a town with a gallon of milk,” related to spending money on preliminaries for the proposed Kachemak Drive Non-motorized Path, as discussed at the Sept. 23 City Council meeting.
Chris made two statements, as well as a hint of a suggestion that I want to address.
One statement referred to the “up to $20,000” allocated for surveying, engineering and cost estimating. Chris said it was, “all wasted, as it turns out they surveyed the wrong location.” The other comment of concern refers to, and I quote, “$20,000 so carelessly spent by the City Manager.”
The survey/engineering/cost estimate as completed, eliminated the extremely steep stretch of up to 450 lateral feet (which was part of what had been approved through Resolution 12-079), and instead continued past this, then along the Mud Bay Trail to the bottom of the Beach Access Road.
The Public Works Director, who is a civil engineer with decades of experience, later said (paraphrasing his comments) that he made “an executive decision” and that he could not in good conscience continue along the steep part since it would be so technically difficult and therefore extremely costly to build a Level 3 path (as we desired) along that section. We have since dropped our plans to a Level 1 or 2 path, which will be much less costly.
Actually, the survey, etc. from the Homer Spit as far as the Y, where the proposed trail goes steeply upward, was done as requested.
The irony is that this action, decided on by the public works director and possibly backed by the city manager, in an attempt to address cost issues, resulted in more money being spent than otherwise would have been.
Having said this, I personally feel that we have top men at the helm in Homer and I highly respect their judgment calls — even if I may not always agree with decisions made.
Back to Chris Story’s comments. The other thing that concerned me is how Chris may have unintentionally inferred that City Council members didn’t have facts right at their fingertips which they should have had as might have been suggested by their not knowing how much of the “up to $20,000” had been spent.
With a host of ongoing projects and issues, such as the natural gas line and the HERC property considerations, I think this proposed path cannot exactly be a top priority of either Council or City staff.
Two last comments: In talking to Chris Story, I find we have yet another strong supporter of building a path. Thanks Chris. But, hey, we may be talking less than 45,000 gallons of milk, not 90,000 as you suggested!

Beth Cummings is a member of the  Kachemak Drive Non-Motorized Path group, but is speaking only for herself in this opinion piece.

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Posted by on Oct 1st, 2013 and filed under Point of View. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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