Recreation support

For years, people of Homer have waxed wistful on the subject of gaining a community center. The idea is part nostalgia for a meeting place — like the old-fashioned grocery stores where generations kept connected — as well as practical in the need for a place to play sports or attend a workshop. It’s even an urgency to those concerned about youth, as the Boys and Girls Club will now be displaced and the fear that there will be nothing to keep teens busy.
But does it have to come from the City of Homer?
Is it possible to gain a community center through private enterprise? What about a consortium of social organizations?
The Homer Educational Recreation Center has functioned somewhat in that capacity in the past. It was a busy hub for kids arriving after school to the Homer Boys and Girls Club, where they found help for homework and healthy exercise. The Community Recreation Program liked the building, with its hardwood floor in the gym offering sports enthusiasts a place to play and interact with others.
Now the city of Homer, owner of HERC, is making the decision to tear down the ailing structure that was built in 1956. The 57-year-old building’s many problems cause a $250,000 money drain on the city and therefore, the taxpayers.
No matter what happens to the building, parents in town are no doubt alarmed at the fact that there is no after school program for the many – up to 100 or so youth – formerly dependent on the Boys and Girls Club. Already four or five weeks into the school year, this means parents had to make other arrangements for after-school care. Or maybe the kids go home and wait alone for parents to get off work. Perhaps a few will go astray in activities that aren’t as healthy as those the club offered.
Community recreation programs also will suffer in their displacement. They have the high school for some of their classes and programs, but they are often forced to cancel activities, as high school events come first. Then what? What does that mean for a large part of the town who need the exercise in cold, icy winter or the outlet of learning something new?
It may well be time to push forward on a community center discussion that doesn’t focus only on a plea to the city of Homer.
The miraculous construction of a new playground at Karen Hornaday Park wasn’t approached from a let-city-government pay for it strategy. Anyone recall how well that went? A group of parents rolled up their sleeves and reached out for others to join them. Private and corporate funding followed and the city was able to supply some assistance.
A community center is an appealing notion. At meetings, people talk nostalgically about somewhere folks can mingle and find a sense of communal support across the generations. They talk about a place they can count on that isn’t dependent on city funds that are sometimes granted and then removed;  or a school district whose job is not to support adult ed and recreation.
Who might step forward to get a plan set in motion? What groups brainstorm these kinds of questions? Where might we begin?

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Posted by on Sep 17th, 2013 and filed under Editorial. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

2 Responses for “Recreation support”

  1. joanna says:

    This project certainly can be funded by someone organizing to raise funds. There are plenty of buildings in town that can be rented or purchased for this purpose. They can be fixed up by volunteers, furnished by donations etc.

    There are lots available with which the community could purchase and build on with volunteer labor. We could put up a quick manufactured roundhouse as advertised in the paper this week “Newlywed Couple Eagerly Awaits Canadian Round Home”

    However, the city council should not be allowed to treat us as their serfs as they sit in their 3 million remodeled City Hall that the voters said NO to. This is our town, we pay the bills. Every time I buy something in town, an absurd amount goes to the city coffers which they use for their own wants and needs.

    When they get extra money, like from Buccaneer, they give it to the harbor fund which already has received millions or they put it in a rainy day account for when the city council wants new ipads or furniture.

    Last year, the city had 2 extra million sitting around for road projects, so they instead requested the state reallocate for a new harbor masters office and fire station on Skyline, when they know the people have been requesting a Boys and Girls club,community center, bike trails on Kachemak drive etc. and they already requested and received millions for the harbor.

    After the people repeatedly ask for a community center, the City Council slaps us in the face by taking away the Boys and Girls club and location for a future community center, and instead offer a huge new 15 million dollar police/fire station that we will have to pay the heat and utilities on.

    The community did not ask for a huge new fire/police station! And 15 Million!! Who is getting the contract? Who is getting the 300,000 for just the beginning stages of planning?

    Because $300,000 would have been enough to purchase a new building for the Boys and Girls club, which the city keeps insisting there is no money for.

    This city belongs to the people of Homer, the same people who requested a community center. We pay the taxes! The city council and city manager work for us, not the other way around.

    To allow the City Council to ignore us while they pursue their own very expensive pet projects and expenses is to accept that we live under authoritarian rule, not a democracy Of, By and FOR We the People.

  2. Soldotna is more progressive/intelligent? says:

    “Soldotna candidates consider economy, businesses, teen center top priorities”

    Why doesn’t our city council care about what the citizens want?

    Look at Soldotna’s very reasonable and balanced requests for capital projects:

    ■ An equipment storage facility next to the city shop at $2.5 million;

    ■ Paving city streets at $1 million;

    ■ Conducting phase two of waste water treatment plant upgrades at $1.8 million;

    ■ Replacing a 31-year-old Kenai Fire Department tanker at $500,000;

    ■ Starting phase two of the Kenai industrial park’s construction at $500,000;

    ■ Improving the city’s recreation center at $500,000;

    ■ Constructing a garage for the Kenai Senior Center at $400,000; and

    ■ Implementing new fee shacks and automated pay parking and camping systems for Kenai River access at $225,000.

    The citizens who have been consistently requesting a rec center were ignored in our capital budget. Instead Our city council asks for 15 Million for a police/fire station and they expect to get it?

    They must know someone or something. Maybe Parnell is special buddies with Homer city council because they are setting up our community to be the next shipping hub for the oil and gas industry, and the city council even got the citizens to pay for the gas lines! They must be laughing their arses off at us.

    Anyone else noticed how the gas lines go way out east end road, toward Buccaneer’s drilling operation, way past the city limits. Who is paying for that?

    The gas lines that go all the way out the spit have been put in place well before many businesses that are much closer to town. Why is that? Are they perhaps preparing to use the gas lines to export gas?

    The current city council responds to their own wants and needs for our community which does not jibe with the reason many moved here. We did not ask to be an oil and gas hub, in fact most have fought against that since Homer began. We did not ask to live in an authoritarian police state, we want a nice place for families to thrive.

    I hope these important issues come up at the candidates forum….at the Kachemak Community Center lol

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