Assembly proceeds with demolition
The Haines Borough Assembly on July 26 voted to start the process of demolishing the rest of the old elementary school building.
Assemblyman Scott Rossman was absent for the 4-0 vote.
The building has been proposed for a community recreation center.
Borough manager Mark Earnest said assembly approval would be required before the borough awards a contract for demolition.
"I don’t want people to panic and think there won’t be another chance to have input on it, because I’m sure there will be," said Brian Lemcke, the borough’s interim director of public facilities.
Member Joanne Waterman requested for the assembly to discuss the old elementary gymnasium, spared from demolition in 2010.
"Last year, when we took this section of the school out of the demolition, I remember thinking that, ‘We’ll do it for a year. The people that were interested, you’ve got a year to come up with a plan, and here’s your opportunity,’" Waterman said. "...It’s been over a year, and I haven’t seen any concrete ideas or plans come forward."
Resident Marnie Hartman has led the nonprofit Well and Fit Community Council’s efforts to promote a Haines recreation center. Hartman did not attend the July 26 meeting and said she thought a decision on the building would wait until after assembly members discussed results from a "programming" study by MRV Architects of Juneau.
The assembly authorized $14,442 for the study.
Corey Wall, project manager for MRV, visited Haines in February and met with representatives from the Chilkat Valley Community Foundation, Chilkat Valley Preschool, Community Youth Development, Hammer Museum, KHNS, Haines Borough School District and Well and Fit for interviews regarding potential upgrades to the old elementary gymnasium and adjoining classroom space.
Wall said a May MRV report for the borough listed some of the pros and cons of the building, but the overall study is "ongoing." He said one main concern is that the gymnasium is too narrow for regulation basketball games.
Responses to an opinion survey that was part of an update to the borough’s comprehensive plan ranked a community recreation center and road improvements as the most important projects in the borough.
Member Daymond Hoffman said if the building is torn down, he "would like to start talking about the next step" for constructing another facility at that site.
Assemblyman Jerry Lapp said the building had become "a liability" for the borough.
"I was for saving it if we were going to make it into a borough building/assembly chambers/community fitness center, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to ever happen," he said.