Donations add more improvements to park

Who can forget the wide-eyed excitement of youngsters attending the ribbon-cutting marking completion of a community-wide rebuild of Karen A. Hornaday Hillside Park’s playground in May 2012?

The improvements are far from over, thanks to two new donations to HoPP, the Homer Playground Project, and plans by the city.

“Bruce Flanigan, owner of Alaska Coastal Freight, just donated $5,000 to the Homer Playground Project for Karen Hornaday Park to help build a fire circle area the city will be constructing as part of a new picnic pavilion and improved day-use area,” said Miranda Weiss, who, along with Deb Cox, led the HoPP effort.

Flanigan’s gift is in memory of his friend, Ray Clapp, who died in 2011. Clapp and his wife, Kelly, were owners of Coast Range Construction “and touched many parts of the community,” said Weiss. 

The second donation comes from Homer Kachemak Bay Rotary Club and adds $4,000 to the cost of the fire circle. 

“I contacted (Weiss) and asked if there were any projects that perhaps our club could be involved in,” said Rotarian Kathy Hill. “The fire circle has been put into Phase II of the development of Karen Hornaday Park and it looked like something that could be done.”

The club’s donation represents funding from the club, plus an additional amount awarded by the club’s district grants chairman.

“It looks like this fire circle is just going to be a neat addition to the picnic area, one that can be used all year,” said Hill. 

“There’ll also be some concrete benches, rock-faced, that are permanent structures, and I think it’s going to be a fun project. We’re looking forward to seeing it through.”

Rotarians also will provide some of the work needed to complete the project.

“That’s something that’s part of our matching grant. We have to provide some labor,” said Hill.

The two donations mean the fire circle and benches can be added to other park upgrades for which the city recently awarded a contract to Polar North Construction of Soldotna, according to Carey Meyer, Homer’s public works director. Construction is expected to begin mid-September.

That contract includes building a 36-by-18-foot shelter with a modified V-shape design meant to maximize a view toward the bay on one side and a view of the playground on the other. Total amount of the contract is $81,500, not including the fire circle and benches. The design also calls for partitions inside the shelter that serve as windbreaks, but funding for that portion is yet to be obtained.

“At the time we awarded the (shelter) project, we were unable to award the bench and fire circle because we weren’t exactly certain where the money was,” said Meyer of the reason it wasn’t included in the contract.

The fire pit and benches will be located on the side of the shelter facing the playground. The new shelter will be constructed between the playground and an existing shelter.

“And the existing shelter is scheduled to be relocated next summer between the park’s ballfields,” said Carey.

Other work the city has completed on the park in the past year includes the removal of a shed and adding gravel to the parking area.

“What we’re going to finish this year is considered Phase I of the Hornaday park improvements, but there are plans for a new access road, parking area and restrooms in the master plan the city council approved,” said Carey. “It will take several years and the parks and recreation commission is working diligently to continue the process with Phase II in the next few years.”

Weiss said HoPP also is advocating for the positioning of a pyramid-shaped, 20-foot net climber at the park. 

“It’s really expensive, but we have that opportunity because people have been so generous,” she said. “I haven’t totally finished the math, but I’m pretty sure we have the funds.”

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at