The final public meeting discussing the city’s draft transporation plan took place last month.
Employees from the City of Homer on Sept. 26 provided updates to the draft plan at a public open house at the Kenai Peninsula College. The transportation plan incorporates road systems as well as the availability and maintenance of trails and sidewalks for nonmotorized transportation and recreation on a year-round basis.
The intention of the meeting was to update the public about components of the plan and to gather feedback from breakout groups.
Julie Engebretsen, economic development manager with the City of Homer, told attendees that the plan was part of a “city blueprint.”
“It will talk about what we will build and how we should use our landscapes and properties to get it to look the way we want it to.”
The plan, which is required by state law, differs from plans that might be developed in other states, she said.
“In Washington state, for example, you might see more things included like ‘urban growth boundaries.’ Alaska doesn’t have quite as many requirements.”
The first plan for the city was published in 1999 with an updated version published in 2007 that included trails and nonmotorized transportation, Engebretsen said. The 2007 plan also included a funding component for the city trail system and a way to use sales tax dollars to provide a critical structure and maintenance component.
Copies of the draft plan are available at Homer City Hall, at the library and online and there are comment sheets available at all of those locations. Public comments on the draft are being accepted until Oct. 10. After comments from the community and staff are collected and the draft is revised it will go to the planning commission.
The planning commission will then hold a public hearing and provide a transportation plan to the city council for approval that would then go to the borough.
“It’s an extensive process but it’s really important to get community feedback on what people are looking for in terms of transportation improvements,” Engebretsen said.
Some of the critical guidelines of the plan include designs for all ages and abilities. Engebretsen described four main goals of the plan as it stands now:
■ increase safety and mobility between all modes of traffic;
■ create a connected network that balances modes of transportation;
■ maintain year-round usability;
■ and expand transportation options for residents and visitors.
These four goals are described with more specific details in the draft plan.
Attendees had the opportunity to join breakout groups to provide comments and suggestions to city employees. The topic areas for these groups were: pedestrians, trails, bicycling and a general catchall group.
Some of the most notable comments were related to opportunities to make left-hand turns during busy periods of the work day; pedestrian visibility on roadways with high use, such as crossing the Sterling Highway to reach the switchback trail at Islands and Oceans Visitor Center; maintenance of crosswalks; and the creation of additional crosswalks.
The city transportation plan can be found online at https://www.cityofhomer-ak.gov/sites/default/files/fileattachments/public_works/page/76454/20230809_revised_draft_homer_transportation_plan.pdf.