'Master plan' would guide decisions on facilities
Add another plan to borough planning efforts. In addition to work on a comprehensive plan and a strategic plan, the Haines Borough is embarking on a master plan for facilities.
The firm selected to provide professional design services for a proposed community center also will evaluate all Haines Borough facilities, manager Mark Earnest wrote in a report this month.
Earnest wrote the consultant’s work would help the borough move forward with a facility master plan, by “defining the scope of the project, which will be based on a quantitative analysis of existing structures, existing uses, and future needs.”
Last December, a community facility master plan was the third-ranked item on the Haines Borough Assembly’s list of capital budget priorities for the Alaska Legislature, trailing boat harbor and Lutak Dock improvements. The borough requested $150,000 from the state for the plan, and the assembly later appropriated $75,000 to partially fund it.
A selection committee recently went through qualification statements from five firms that responded to a borough “request for qualifications” for planning of a community center, and named McCool Carlson Green of Anchorage as its top choice. The assembly has not yet approved a contract.
In his report, Earnest wrote that the RFQ was “intentionally written broad enough to include (the) effort, at least in part” of a consultant “providing assistance in evaluating all borough facilities, with an emphasis on general government buildings, consistent with the borough facility master plan, which was funded by the assembly.”
Selection committee members include Dave Berry, Chilkoot Indian Association; Lenise Henderson Fontenot, Downtown Revitalization Committee; Daymond Hoffman and Steve Vick, Haines Borough Assembly; Rob Goldberg, Haines Borough Planning Commission; Michael Byer, Haines Borough School District; and Ron Jackson, Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee.
Jason Gamache of McCool Carlson Green on Tuesday attended a meeting of assembly and Haines Borough Planning Commission members to discuss borough buildings, as part of the “strategic plan” process facilitated by local consultant Lenise Henderson Fontenot. The strategic plan is a brief, “to-do list” of upcoming projects.
Henderson Fontenot prepared binders for officials, with hundreds of pages she said detailed “the current state of almost every single building owned by the borough.”
“I would say it’s about 87 percent done and probably needs some refinement, but hopefully it will give us a good start tonight,” she said. “I think it’s probably the first time in the history of the borough that all of this stuff has been compiled in one area.”
One of the goals for the strategic plan is that the assembly will make better -informed and more involved budget decisions.
Planning commissioner Rob Goldberg suggested consolidating buildings and improving energy efficiency as two ways to trim costs for facilities.
“It’s obvious that entropy happens – stuff falls apart – and we haven’t been really on top of keeping up with maintenance on the buildings,” Goldberg said. “There’s an awful lot that still needs to be fixed and/or, replaced, and that begs the question ‘How are we going to finance all of that?’”
Earnest said the master plan would help Haines become more competitive for outside funding.
“What’s going to be important for the community is to go through this process,” he said. “You can’t have five different ideas about all the directions on all these different projects and expect to be successful, because facilities are going to be harder to fund than road projects or harbors or docks. It takes a lot more of a consensus and a lot more planning and design.”
Assembly member Debra Schnabel said traffic patterns should be an important consideration in facility planning.
“It becomes a question of how do you see the dynamic energy of your community,” she said. “You put a building over here or you buy a building over there, and you move people around. We have to make sure that we end up with still a vital community where we have our activities kind of localized and we don’t create big holes in the community, like we have on Main Street.”