Group of 30 brainstorms future of Chilkat Center


October 20, 2011

The Haines Borough’s government affairs and services committee and about 30 residents on Tuesday brainstormed how to best manage and promote the Chilkat Center to increase the building’s use.

Subtracting out income from rentals, the center costs the borough about $50,000 per year.

"It would behoove the borough to have someone in charge of organizing activities – not activities that take place in the outlying rooms, but in the theater - because it’s a fabulous theater, and it needs to be used," said Lorrie Dudzik of the Chilkat Center Advisory Board.

The meeting at the Chilkat Center lobby followed recent borough assembly discussion of the building’s potential as a community recreation center.

A few attendees toured the basement following Tuesday’s meeting. Assembly member Daymond Hoffman said that part of the facility, used weekly for church services, is "an okay space until something better comes along" for recreation.

Former building manager Lee Heinmiller said a paid, part-time staffer who would schedule use of public facilities boroughwide could benefit the Chilkat Center and the community in general "so there’s one person to call."

The center was managed by a local, private foundation for about five years in the late 1990s.

KHNS currently manages the facility, in lieu of paying rent. The station values the free rent at $44,000 annually and its management services at $14,000.

"The (Chilkat Center) management, right now, sort of takes as much of my time as I could give it," said Kay Clements, KHNS general manager. "I do the sort of minimum of taking calls, scheduling and making sure that they have what they need when somebody comes in."

Clements started as general manager early this year. She said running a radio station and coordinating the Chilkat Center are very different jobs. "I think this building deserves something more than what I can give it."

Former KHNS general manager Judy Erekson said Chilkat Center management responsibilities took about 10 hours a week for the station’s business manager. She noted that position has not been replaced at KHNS following the departure of Georgia Giacobbe.

Jila Stuart said the borough’s agreement with KHNS for management is more efficient than having a part-time borough employee handle the job.

Borough manager Mark Earnest called Tuesday’s meeting "the first step in what I think is going to be several efforts like this to, as a community, look to see how we’re operated and how we can do things better."

"There is a lot of history here, there’s a lot of history in this building, and it is an asset," Earnest said. "It’s not one without issues, and we’re working on those systematically."

Stephanie Scott, who will be sworn in as Mayor later this month, said she had questions about the building’s condition. She said increased usage of the facility would depend heavily on the efforts of community groups.

"I’m a little reluctant to say it takes government sponsorship," Scott said. "It’s the government’s responsibility to maintain this building, and I guess that’s the checklist that I would be interested in. What is, actually, the status of the building, right now?"

Brian Lemcke, borough director of public facilities, said the most pressing repairs would cost an estimated $1.2 million.

A May 2008 condition survey prepared by PND Engineers of Juneau set the total project cost for repair and improvement at approximately $4 million and the replacement cost at around $11 million.

The 49-page report said the building’s "roof rafters and beams are overstressed when subjected to code-prescribed snow loads" and "the low slope roof and gambrel roofs do not properly ventilate nor include proper insulation."

"As a result, ice dams cause leaks and other problems that re-occur each winter," the report said. "Secondly, the building was designed prior to (the Americans with Disabilities Act) becoming law. Significant changes are needed to better serve this population."

Assemblyman Steve Vick said the government affairs and services committee would have additional meetings to discuss the center.

"I just wanted to say thank you very much to the borough for addressing this, because it’s very important to me, personally, and to an awful lot of people in the community," said Dudzik of the Chilkat Center Advisory Board.


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