ANCHORAGE - A real-estate agent is selling land on the southern Kenai Peninsula once designated for a volcano learning center and some residents say he got a bargain price.
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The 80-acre parcel on the Sterling Highway north of Anchor Point was envisioned for the North Pacific Volcano Learning Center. When backers failed to raise enough money to build it, the property was sold to a board member of the nonprofit center, real estate agent Emmitt Trimble.
The site is about as good as it gets for volcano viewing from Alaska's road system, said John Eichelberger, a University of Alaska Fairbanks volcanology professor at the Alaska Volcano Observatory. The property offers views of mounts Redoubt, Augustine, Iliamna and Spurr. Promoters envisioned remote cameras for watching geologic cauldrons and a seismometer to chart the Earth's rumblings.
Eichelberger said he had looked forward to working with the center, whose backers suggested putting a scientist on site. A tourist attraction of that kind would get children interested in science and math while educating adults about the state's geology, he said.
The property originated with a fisherman's widow who has since died. She offered to sell the land for $400,000, according to the borough attorney. The Kenai Peninsula Borough put up $315,000, and the nonprofit group was to pay that off over time and raise the other $85,000, plus the estimated $12.5 million to build the science center.
Borough Assemblywoman Milli Martin said the borough should have gotten more for its investment.
"I feel the taxpayers were cheated on this," she said.