The City of Soldotna has scheduled additional opportunities for dialogue with residents affected by special assessment districts.
Administration held open houses for SAD projects this summer giving property owners the opportunity to meet with city employees to discuss the projects, but it wasn’t enough, Director of Economic Development and Planning Stephanie Queen said.
“We felt like with this last round of projects that these are so complex that it’s difficult to get everybody enough information and have enough dialogue about the projects in that one meeting,” Queen said.
So the city decided to add work sessions for the affected residents and business owners so they have the opportunity to discuss the projects not only with the staff but also with council members.
SADs are improvement projects, which under municipal code primarily benefit property owners in a limited area. The cost of the project is split among the city and the property owners.
The two streets the city is currently considering for SAD projects are North Aspen Drive and Lord Baranof Street.
Lord Baranof Street, a residential street, has an about 340-foot stretch of gravel, so the city is looking at paving and curbing that section, Queen said.
She said it’s “too early” to know what recommendations will likely be included for North Aspen Drive, but she expects to discuss options at the next open house for the project on Tuesday. Some improvements that are being considered for the commercial district are paving, curbing, lights, trees and sidewalks.
“I think it gets a fair amount of pedestrians right now kind of being adjacent to the elementary school and several businesses,” she said, explaining why sidewalks are a possible addition to the street.
Queen said the city has twice previously considered North Aspen Drive as a SAD, but it failed both times. It was most recently considered in 2005, but property owners signed a petition against the project.
She said at the first open house for the project on Oct. 22, the parties discussed why the project was being considered again as a SAD. The cost and benefit level to the different properties seemed to be concerns of property owners, she said.
Based on the second open house for North Aspen Drive, the city administration will decide if it will make a recommendation and what that recommendation will be. If a recommendation is determined, the city will ask the council to set a public hearing in January at the earliest for the project, Queen said. A work session for the project is scheduled for Dec. 11.
A work session for Lord Baranof Street is scheduled for mid-November, and a public hearing is set for December.
Queen said the city may look at the SAD process and decide to amend code to require the different meetings with every SAD project.
“It’s always difficult to anticipate just how much involvement is going to be enough, so I think that it’s nice that we have the option of doing more,” Queen said.