KPB’s street upgrade not welcomed by residents
Wolfgang Kurtz | For The LOG
Looking down the sixty foot wide portion of the easement for Starr Lane, a cul-de-sac off Nash Road. The large tree right of center may be saved, but the street-side root system will be truncated at the base. Project work is to be completed by Oct. 15.
The householders of Starr Lane now see eye-to-eye with each other but not necessarily with the Kenai Peninsula Borough’s priorities when it comes to capital improvement projects. Starr Lane is one of two current Borough Road Service Area projects funded by state capital improvement monies. Thanks to this roadway improvement, local residents have a clear view not only of the sky, but also of each others formerly secluded homes.
The contractor, Kee Construction, has made significant progress toward clearing and ditching including the removal of truckloads of timber. Chris Ballard, whose mother Willie Searcy planted some of the large trees now slated for further clearing, voiced disbelief at the entire project. “This is something we didn’t ask for and didn’t want. There was 100 percent opposition on this street to the construction. Why can’t the borough use this money to help out where it’s really needed?”
There’s no explicit process for public notice where Road Service Area projects are concerned. According to KPB Assembly Member Sue McClure, the project crossed her desk but she had no idea that there was no clear public notice given. She has plans to work toward establishing one. “I was really blindsided by this. It’s not going to happen again on my watch.”
In a further turn of events, the project came close to being deferred or canceled at the 11th hour. Following consultations with Mayor Mike Navarre, McClure had requested that Borough Project Manager Henry Knackstedt cancel or reschedule the bid. However, as flooding hit Seward last month, borough personnel were overwhelmed and the project slipped through the cracks.