Council kicks park safety measure back to commission for further review

Volunteers work on a section of new trail earlier this year at Karen Hornaday Park in Homer, Alaska. (Photo courtesy Robert Archibald)

Volunteers work on a section of new trail earlier this year at Karen Hornaday Park in Homer, Alaska. (Photo courtesy Robert Archibald)

A proposal to improve safety and access at Karen Hornaday Park is being kicked back for review to the Parks, Art, Recreation and Culture Advisory Commission, where it originated.

Ordinance 18-17 was up for a vote at the Homer City Council’s Monday meeting, and would have appropriated about $48,500 from the Homer Accelerated Roads and Trails (HART) Program to implement safety improvements and traffic calming measures on Karen Hornaday Road.

Improvements to safety at Karen Hornaday Park is a goal included in the city’s Capital Improvements Plan. The project is Karen Hornaday Park Improvements, Phase 2, and involves relocating the access road, a move the city estimated in 2012 would cost $726,000.

Earlier this year, the council directed PARCAC to come up with recommendations for improving safety at the park in the meantime until funding is available for the full road project.

“Recommended safety improvements from PARCAC included shifting the road slightly east at the upper portion of the existing parking lot, defining the edges of the parking lots with boulders, (and) installing speed bumps and organizing parking,” according to the ordinance text.

Council members felt it was too early to vote on the ordinance, and postponed the vote while sending the measure back to the commission for further review. Some members expressed a wish to see less expensive options. Another concern was whether, under HART, the city would become responsible for annual maintenance in the absence of park volunteer workers.

“This has been a real struggle for many of us to work on, for a wide variety of reasons,” Deb Lowney, a member of PARCAC, told the council. “If you look at Karen Hornaday Park and the master plan, you see that a lot of the work that has been done up in that park has been done by community members really … emphasizing certain things and taking on certain tasks: raising funds, applying for grants, things of that nature, to accomplish it.”

“The way the task (of crafting an ordinance) was presented to us and written was somewhat restrictive in terms of what we could actually look at and analyze options we were given,” she added.

Robert Archibald, another member of the commission, told the council he sees the ordinance as it’s currently written as a Band-aid to the overall problem of safe access at the park.

“One of our first goals was to try an move that parking lot to the other side,” he said of being involved with the park for many years. “… I’m not saying that this (ordinance) is a bad thing, but I do see that there is grant money available now, and I don’t know if there’s other avenues that we could look at.”

After being reviewed by the commission, the safety improvements ordinance will come back before the council on Oct. 8.

Reach Megan Pacer at mpacer@homernews.com.

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