January 6, 2011 |

Demand for a rec center? Potential usestudy proposed

Borough facilities director Brad Maynard has prepared a request for MRV Architects of Juneau to measure demand for a community recreation center that would be located in the old elementary gymnasium and adjoining classroom space.

At Tuesday’s Haines Borough Assembly meeting, staff will seek approval for "programming," or measuring potential use, through MRV, Maynard said.

"You look at every single user group that may be wanting to use the building, and then you do an interview with them and understand how much area they need, how often they would use it, what amenities they would need and you basically look at how all the groups would interact in that building," Maynard said.

Programming, he said, would drive the economics of the project. The assembly could use the information in a later vote to determine whether to proceed with any proposed renovations.

Maynard said the programming research is expected to take 186 hours, at a cost of $14,900.

The assembly in a 4-2 vote last September approved the demolition of the primary and elementary schools, but left the gym and east wing for future development. Former assemblyman Norm Smith had referred to estimates of $2.5 million for renovation and $4 million for replacement before the vote.

Maynard said a few suggestions have been for the facility to house borough offices and the Chilkat Valley Preschool, and activities for Community Youth Development and the Well and Fit Community Council. The building could host overflow school events and serve as a public gym, he said.

"I will be moving forward on contacting groups next week if the proposal is accepted by the assembly," Maynard said.

The Well and Fit Community Council is a nonprofit organization that has sought a Haines recreation center over the last two years, said Dr. Marnie Hartman, physical therapist and group president.

Resident Joe Parnell in recent weeks has lobbied the assembly and school board to support more open gym time for adults, independent of the Well and Fit campaign.

Hartman said Well and Fit supports a center at the former school, which currently has "no electricity, no heat and no bathroom facilities."

A February 2010 MRV report outlined the costs "to retain and renovate portions of the facility for use as an indoor wellness/activity center and to provide general purpose space for flexible uses, including possible meeting rooms, exhibit or gallery space, and similar functions that would benefit Haines."

"When you take a building in that shape and you bring it back, you have to completely gut it, rewire it, new plumbing, HVAC," Maynard said. "You’re basically using the shell of the building and rebuilding the inside of it."

MRV’s estimated total cost for the project was about $3.3 million, in 2010 dollars.

The project would cover "classrooms, hallways, and support space (measuring) 5,600 square feet on two floors, or 11,200 square feet total," plus the 6,000-square-foot gymnasium, according to the report.

"In very general terms, the old school property can (be) renovated into a moderate-quality, serviceable facility for the Haines Borough for roughly 40 percent of the cost of comparable new construction," the report concluded. "Not all portions of the building would be new, but it would result in a very serviceable building for Haines."