The Kenai city council adopted some new rules for bonfires on the city’s beaches at its meeting last week.
In September, the council debated banning bonfires with wooden pallets or other fuels that would bring nails, screws or other beach un-friendly materials along. At that time, Vice Mayor Tim Navarre asked the city administration to take another look at the fines and time table for the ordinance, thinking a grace period of a year would help to educate the public before writing tickets.
“I’m sort of leaning in that direction because so often we just pass the law and don’t give anyone (notice). And yet you give law enforcement the ability to just fine somebody if they want to," Navarre said.
In the initial version of the ordinance, the fine could go as high as $500. Now, it’s $50, and the law will go into effect in six months. Navarre says this gives the city time to get the word out.
“And as it states in the memo, not only in the dipnet fishery app and on the city webpage, but with actual signage on the beach. And I also look to the future...hopefully our city can create some gazebos and some fire rings for people to actually have fires.”
Mayor Brian Gabriel took it one step further, suggesting there could be a spot specifically for burning pallets.
“Have something along the lines of a sign that (says) anybody from the public could use it. They wouldn’t necessarily have to reserve it, just let the fire department to let them know they’re using it at that time and at least try it for awhile and see how it works. I think I was there in high school with my fellow council member (Henry) Knackstedt back in the day enjoying a bonfire. It was kind of neat at that time, but it might be something to look into down the road.”
The new rules go into effect July 1st of next year, just ahead of dipnetting season.