Congratulations to the City of Homer in their effort to create a community/recreation center just as most other communities in Alaska have already long done. The proposed facility would be placed where the present day HERC building is. It is my belief that this facility should meet the following expectations:
• A community center meeting some of the social and small meeting needs of Homer and vicinity.
• A recreation facility meeting needs of exercise and physical, mental fitness.
• Not to be excluded, storage space for the Public Works and Recreation departments.
• A cost effective facility meeting the typical tax payer’s needs of our conservative peers.
• A facility that would indeed be a showcase that would meet the unmet needs of a convention/conference center providing opportunity for an off-season economy in our community.
• A facility that would be a physical and structural compliment to our geologically serene beauty pronouncing how we appreciate where we live. The facility should not just have a view but should be highly viewable to the 95% plus of the traffic entering our community via the Sterling Highway.
Regrettably, the proposed designs by Stantec Inc. fail to meet these community needs. The designs largely seem to provide a gymnasium with what seems to be little else at great projected expense, and that expense does not also include the cost of the demolition of the HERC building, as it is, nor the value of the land.
A far better opportunity to meet many of the above community needs is to purchase the existing Bay Club right here in Homer at a mere fraction of the cost of the Stantec Inc. proposals. It is my understanding that the Bay Club currently is a purchasable facility. The Bay Club has a significant variety of exercise devices, an exercise swim pool, a yoga exercise area and racquetball courts. Its 5 acres of land also allows for facility expansion.
BUT: The only difficult thing is that the cost of utilization exceeds many family and individual budgets. If anything can be learned from this immediate past COVID-19 winter, it is that we all should appreciate, immensely, the value of social interaction as well as physical exercise relative to our mental and physical well-being. Public purchase of the Bay Club with private individual participation reducing considerably the cost of utilization is an opportunity for us all to have a true “healthier” life and community.
Financing should not rely on just the City of Homer, but should be area wide and institution wide such as the Seldovia Village Tribe (SVT) and the South Peninsula Hospital (SPH) service area. The City of Homer has the administrative plus organizational structure and should take the leadership to facilitate this most worthy project.