January 5, 2012
Let’s hope the Haines Borough Assembly will decide to fix the Chilkat Center roof without too much more deliberation. Facilities director Brian Lemcke has received a rough estimate of $650,000 for work to keep the center safe and dry.
There’s an old adage that applies here, along the lines that"the only decision required in fixing a roof is what color tin to buy."
But a roof fix shouldn’t end discussion of the building’s future. The center is the darling of the arts community, but even bigger repair bills loom.
A discussion of this sort occurred in the mid-1980s concerning the swimming pool. For its first several years, the pool was operated with state money appropriated at the time of its construction. That money ran out just as oil revenues nosedived, prompting the school board to remove the pool from its budget, leaving funding up to the Haines Borough.
More than $100,000 annually was needed to keep the pool open, and options under consideration included closing the pool for large parts of the year. In the end, pool supporters came forward and applied pressure to keep the facility open, year-round. We’ll spend $186,000 to operate the pool this year.
Like the Chilkat Center, decisions about major upgrades or replacement of the swimming pool probably aren’t far away. Moreover, it’s become clear from recent statements that state Rep. Bill Thomas, R- Haines, doesn’t want to be viewed as an ATM for all facilities upgrades.
How much we’re willing to spend from our own pockets to maintain facilities like the arts center and pool may become a very revealing test of our civic pride.
It’s encouraging to see a crowd turned out for an alcohol-free New Year’s celebration at the ANB Hall. There’s a lot of fun to be had in this town that doesn’t require a drink. Opening the swimming pool and library on weekend nights during winter months is one way the Haines Borough could help promote such healthy, family activities. Kudos to organizers at the ANB Hall.
Thanks to Leo Smith Logging, Erwin Hertz, Mountain Market and Alaska Marine Lines for making this year’s Polar Bear Dip possible. Nothing like a January splash in Lynn Canal to shake off the holiday torpor.
-- Tom Morphet