Members of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly take part in a gathering on Tuesday, April 5, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
The Anchor Point Food Pantry has a brand new residence close to Chapman Elementary School in Anchor Point following the approval of a 20-year land lease settlement by the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly final week.
The meals pantry, which for 9 years operated out of the Great Land Worship Center in Anchor Point, was requested to maneuver final 12 months following a spike within the variety of individuals the pantry served all through the COVID-19 pandemic. The lease settlement authorized by the borough meeting is for a 3.5-acre parcel of land down the road from Chapman Elementary School, maps present.
The parcel is owned by the Kenai Peninsula Borough and was categorized as “institutional” final 12 months. The meals pantry has plans for a phased growth of a neighborhood meals pantry on the location in addition to a long-term aim of increasing the ability to incorporate a neighborhood middle, in keeping with the ordinance that licensed the lease.
The variety of individuals in search of help from the pantry elevated dramatically throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The meals pantry served 240 adults and 70 youngsters in October of 2019. That’s in comparison with the 674 adults and 554 youngsters they served in October of 2020, although the sharp enhance in youngsters served is partially as a result of a program that supplied 250 baggage to space youngsters. They served 854 adults and 427 youngsters, once more together with a youngsters’s program, in December 2020.
The meeting heard throughout its April 19 assembly public testimony from individuals who supported and opposed the lease.
Jasmine Baker, a 16-year-old from Anchor Point, was one among many who submitted feedback supporting the meals pantry’s efforts. Baker, who mentioned she volunteers on the pantry, mentioned she helps fill meals baggage and arms out heat drinks.
“I love meeting new people and it has really helped me meet the people of our town,” Baker wrote. “Being a part of the Anchor Point food pantry has been a blessing to me, to see that helping others is a wonderful thing and I’m glad that I can spend my time this way.”
Those who testified in opposition to the lease mentioned the meeting ought to take extra time to contemplate various places, whereas some meeting members countered that discussions have been ongoing for nearly a 12 months.
Anchor Point resident Emmitt Trimble mentioned the meeting ought to discover different items of land and mentioned the proposed parcel is of curiosity to him as a result of it’s owned by the borough.
“If this was a piece of private property, you wouldn’t hear anything from me — it would be none of my business — but it’s not,” Emmitt Trimble mentioned. “It’s taxpayer property. It’s public property. So I’m here, not necessarily representing everyone in the public, but as a taxpayer. I think we need to at least pump the brakes a little bit and slow down.”
Trimble, alongside together with his spouse Mary, additionally voiced considerations in regards to the proximity of the land parcel to Chapman Elementary School. Mary Trimble, who additionally serves on the Anchor Point Advisory Planning Commission, wrote in feedback submitted to the meeting prematurely that the three.5-acre web site ought to be thought-about for college makes use of, comparable to sporting occasions.
“Tying this property up with a lease leaves potentially 30 years before the school has another chance at this opportunity,” Mary Trimble mentioned.
Anchor Point Food Pantry President Melissa Martin wrote in feedback submitted to the meeting that the meals pantry has been in touch with Chapman Elementary School to debate neighborhood considerations and the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District has not expressed curiosity within the lease. Assembly member Cindy Ecklund mentioned that the college district had time to intervene within the course of in the event that they have been involved in regards to the lease.
“I think it’s time to move forward with this,” Ecklund mentioned. “And I think there was plenty of time for anyone from the school district to step in and ask for the property.”
Assembly member Tyson Cox had related ideas.
“We’re hearing that there just hasn’t been enough time and I’m feeling like we’ve talked about this several different times,” Cox mentioned.
Kenai Peninsula Borough Land Management Officer Marcus Mueller wrote in a March 24 memo to meeting members that the lease is for 20 years with one 10-year renewal choice. The lease, Mueller wrote, is specified for a neighborhood meals pantry with neighborhood gatherings, neighborhood middle makes use of and associated actions. It requires that the ability be open to most people.
Martin informed meeting members that the pantry expects to open “almost immediately” and that, if issues go in keeping with plan, the pantry can be open in time to serve individuals this summer season. Per a 19-page growth plan ready by Steve Theno, who’s a retired engineer from Anchorage, there aren’t any current buildings on the property, however the web site gives “very good opportunities for development.”
“The site has sufficient area to construct the core facilities proposed for the Anchor Point Food Pantry,” Theno wrote.
In the meantime, the Anchor Point Food Pantry is quickly working at 34361 Old Sterling Highway in Anchor Point, subsequent to the Anchor River Inn Store. The pantry has a meal and meals line each Monday from 4 p.m. to six p.m.
All meeting members current voted in assist of the lease settlement. The meeting’s April 19 assembly could be considered on the meeting’s web site at kpb.us.
Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at email@example.com.