February 3, 2011 |

Rec center meetings set Friday, Saturday

Residents interested in a community recreation center proposed for the old elementary gymnasium are encouraged to attend a 5 p.m. meeting Friday in the Haines Borough Assembly chambers as part of a study to measure demand for the facility.

The assembly last month authorized $14,442 for MRV Architects of Juneau to conduct "programming" on the building to help determine potential use.

"I want to be able to give the community an overall vision of what programming does and how you use it to develop a project," borough facilities director Brad Maynard said of Friday’s meeting.

Some of those attendees will return for interviews the following day in the assembly chambers, he said.

"Friday is going to be a general meeting, where it will specifically talk about the programming and what we’re doing," Maynard said. "On Saturday, it’s individual meetings with each group, like you’ll take and do a 15- or 20-minute meeting with each group and talk about what their interests are and their needs."

He has given interview sheets to a list of potential user groups.

"I didn’t want to see a meeting where 30 people from one organization come in and they want to do programming," Maynard said. "I’d like to have them have things condensed down to where there’s two or three spokesmen, or even an individual is fine."

He said groups will be assigned an approximate time for their interview. Maynard said representatives who show up at the Friday meeting and request an interview likely will be accommodated.

He said a few suggestions have been for the building to serve as a public gymnasium and house borough offices, the Chilkat Valley Preschool, and Community Youth Development, Well and Fit Community Council and school programs.

Maynard said groups will be asked about their sources of funding.

"If you have 10 groups that want to move into a building and can support themselves, it’s a little more desirable than 30 groups that are just looking for a free place to hang their gym shorts," he said. "I think that’s one of the things that when you look at the borough, in general, we can’t continue to be a free ride; we have to be self-supporting on some of these projects we’re undertaking."

Programming will evaluate the "economics for reconstruction," Maynard said.

A February 2010 MRV report estimated that renovations on the remaining 17,000 square feet of the building would cost about $3.3 million, or "roughly 40 percent of the cost of comparable new construction."

Resident Joe Parnell at assembly and school board meetings has voiced support for a community recreation center. On Tuesday, he again was unsuccessful with a request for the school board to approve open gym time for adults on Sundays.

Parnell said he plans to attend Friday’s meeting on the MRV programming. "It’s the first step," he said. "I hope the potential user groups step forward."