Soccer field plans roll forward

Parking lots, storm drains, the cop shop, a remodel of the fire station and community recreation. At its Monday night regular meeting, the Homer City Council dealt with a lot of the details of running “the city that works,” Homer’s official government motto, but also postponed or sent back to committee some actions.

In the midst of appropriating money for redoing the harbor boat-trailer parking lot, the council had a brief flurry of excitement as it considered a $650,000 matching grant to support the Soccer Association of Homer’s indoor community recreation facility, SPARC, for South Peninsula Athletic and Recreation Center. Mayor Beth Wythe introduced a resolution to help the association expand indoor soccer fields if it would build it in the Town Center, city land between Main Street and Poopdeck Street.

“It needs to plant a seed where it can grow where you would like your Town Center to be 12 years from now,” Wythe said.

Speaking for the soccer association, Daniel Zatz said it’s  looking at a 70-foot-by-120-foot sports building. One site idea is on the old ball field behind Homer Middle School. Wythe floated the idea of expanding that project to include programs like Pickle Ball that might go away if the Homer Educational and Recreational Complex is torn down to make room for a new Public Safety Building at that site.

If the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District approves the middle school site, the soccer field project would be ready to start construction this summer. Zatz said he wants to order the steel-frame building in May.

“The community needs something like this right now, not in the future,” Zatz said.

Wythe said the $650,000 would come from reserve funds in the general fund, the same pot of money tapped to fund about the same amount for design and planning for the Public Safety Building. In the end, her idea proved to be a building too far. In a 5-1 vote, with council member Bryan Zak voting yes, the council killed her idea, although council member David Lewis said he might bring back another version of it.

On the Public Safety Building idea, the council did pass a resolution approving improvements to the fire station and separating the fire station from the police station in the Public Safety Building project. One idea is to redesign the police station to use the HERC for purposes like evidence storage or a gun range.

The council also introduced on first reading an ordinance appropriating $80,000 for design of improvements to the fire station. Speaking for the Public Safety Building Review Committee, Ken Castner, chair, said engineers also recently looked at the HERC to assess if it can be used for things like evidence storage.

A big agenda item — at least gauging by the 463-page second volume in the council packet — got sent back to the Homer Advisory Planning Commission. Back on the agenda after its April 2014 introduction was Ordinance 14-18(a), an ordinance to change tower requirements in the city. The planning commission had taken prior council direction and sent a new version back to the committee. The council still had issues with how tower builders would pay for a technical review of its plans.

“I think they’re 90 percent there,” council member Donna Aderhold said of the ordinance.

The council did pass these ordinances:

• Changing city code to move the winter camping area from the Seafarers Memorial to the Pier One Theater campground, and allowing for collection of camp fees;

• Appropriating $638,000 from the Homer Accelerated Roads and Trails funds to pay for street repaving;

• Changing the offenses and fee schedule for use of the harbor load-launch ramp;

• Appropriating $89,000 from the HART for design of the storm drain project; and

• Appropriating $54,300 from the Port and Harbor Enterprise Fund to fix the sport fishing trailer parking lot on the Spit.

However, that amount was increased from $39,300 on a motion by council member Gus VanDyke to take all the money from the enterprise fund, and not $15,000 from Public Works. Because that is a substantial change to the original ordinance, City Clerk Jo Johnson recommended and the council agreed to hold a second public hearing and postpone final action.

The council also killed a resolution introduced by council member David Lewis requesting the U.S. Attorney General issue a final order removing marijuana as a schedule 1 controlled substance. 

Lewis said that would allow commercial cannabis — legal in Alaska, Oregon, Washington and Colorado — to handle money through banks, something U.S. law prohibits since cannabis is considered a controlled substance. 

On a 3-3 vote, Wythe broke the tie with a no vote, with VanDyke, council members Heath Smith and Bryan Zak voting no, and Lewis, Aderhold and council member Catriona Reynolds voting yes.

The council’s next meeting is at 6 p.m. April 11.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at michael.armstrong@homernews.com.

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