• Recreate Rec invites public dialogue
By Naomi Klouda
A local group called Recreate Rec has formed to establish goals for a permanent community center home.
Organizer Kate Crowley, formerly a member of the successful Homer Playground Project at Karen Hornday Park, is spearheading the group. The next meeting is 3:30 to 5 p.m. Oct. 30 at the Homer Public Library conference room.
“We are still working on specifics. One of the main goals is to establish a community rec center for Homer and outlying areas,” Crowley said.
With the loss of the old Homer Middle School, the City of Homer’s Community Recreation Program will soon be without a home, or may be limited in locations to hold classes. The Homer Boys and Girls Club likewise is displaced while its board locates a new place to hold the after-school program that served up to 100 kids and teens.
“We are looking at a broader vision for supporting the Parks and Recreation Department within the city or a (Kenai Peninsula Borough) service area,” Crowley said.
A funding source or sources needs to be identified, such as the service areas that fund emergency services and the South Peninsula Hospital.
“Most of us are seeing a new building, but we are still open to an existing building. At this stage of the game we are encouraging people to contribute to this conversation. Nothing is set in stone,” she added.
City of Homer Community Recreation Director Mike Illg, is part of the discussion, as are two parks and rec commissioners, Robert Archibald and Matt Steffy.
Illg can’t join the movement, as a city employee, but can advise the group and answer questions about what the city supplies. He works with Recreate Rec only to provide expertise.
“The group is great for getting more indoor recreation space, and parks and trails, and they are talking about a colossal need for indoor space during the cold winter months and how it is becoming more and more difficult,” Illg said. “The school district is supportive, but we have to work closely around school activities. They have so many things going on, any of our activities can be postponed or cancelled with very little notice.”
During the basketball season, the city rec program can’t offer a gym until after 8:30 p.m., Illg said.
Work ahead focuses on honing in on the actual goal of what the facility would look like and who it could serve. Crowley said they are trying to be all inclusive right now. “To us, we would really see this as a benefit to Homer. We want to get everybody’s input about what they feel is needed,” she said.
What’s needed is a boys and girls club, spaces for teens as well as performance and classroom space for the host of pottery, painting, dance and yoga classes, just to name a few. They would like to see it hold a gym for the Bruins Basketball and Popeye Wrestling, for example.
“All of these are operated in school district buildings. We’re trying to address that even though they are community programs, they could be asked to leave their venue at any time.”
Illg has pointed out this constant worry about where to hold classes that people pay to take when they can get cancelled due to losing the room or space at the high school, which much place its own afterschool needs first.
Crowley said the group wants to serve every age and every demographic for a true representative building of the community. Seniors, for example, could use an indoor walking track in winter. Programs that bring young and old together stand to benefit the town’s social health.
The Homer Education Recreation Center, the circa 1956 middle school, features a hard wood gym floor that many have lamented the possible loss of when the building is demolished.
“If we can take the gym floor up and repurpose it, that kind of thoughtfulness and the need for it should definitely be considered,” Crowley said.
For more information, contact Kate Crowley at 399-4406 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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