Borough eyes Elks property
Facilities issues dominated Tuesday’s Haines Borough Assembly meeting, where members voted to explore purchase of the Elks property, seek proposals for a temporary metal roof on the Chilkat Center and pay $39,000 for the first phase of the community facility master plan.
The goal of the plan is “to develop a specific capital improvement plan for how to meet the community’s needs for public facilities.” It will “set the stage for construction or renovation of existing or new buildings in order to meet the priorities for community space in Haines,” according to McCool Carlson Green, the Anchorage-based architectural firm chosen to complete the first phase.
The project’s first phase includes critical information about the life-cycle of existing buildings, Mayor Stephanie Scott said this week. “Phase 2 is identifying community needs and separating needs from wants, which gets tricky, Scott said.
Work to be done for $39,000 includes a quantitative analysis of the cost of maintaining current facilities, and whether it’s cost-effective to renovate or retire them, she said.
The master plan is one of the borough’s highest priorities and carries a potential total pricetag of $166,000. The assembly already has appropriated $75,000 from its capital improvement fund for the work.
Members passed a motion to direct the borough manager to explore purchase of the Elks property, 4-2, with members Norm Smith and Jerry Lapp opposed.
Member Debra Schnabel said acquiring the property for school use “intuitively makes sense,” but said she was disappointed in a school board resolution endorsing purchase that described the potential for expanding the school as “limited.”
Schnabel said the school design included the potential for expanding the school westward from the cafeteria area. Superintendent Michael Byer said school officials felt that expanding that direction would impinge on playground and recess areas.
Schnabel asked whether a need for more classroom space was evident in the next 10 years.
“From all the information that’s come to us, we have a future class of up to 35 kindergartners. If those kids all come into school at once, it will really tax our elementary school. We’re going to need more space,” Byer said.
Members Steve Vick and Joanne Waterman said they wanted more specific information from the school, but said it wouldn’t hurt to start talking to Elks officials about price and other matters. “This is just the beginning. There’s no harm in looking into it,” said member Daymond Hoffman.
Smith said he was afraid the borough would end up paying the $375,000 assessed value for the Main Street lots and an aging building. “Why would be want to negotiate to purchase a building that needs to be razed?” Smith said. Lapp said he opposed borough purchase of es Haines Borough police say they have no new leads into an alleged sexual assault that occurred property until the borough started selling lands, adding to local tax rolls.