Public safety building plans move forward

The Public Safety Review Committee reported to the Homer City Council on Monday that plans for the proposed public safety building would use the current Homer Education and Recreation Complex to house police and fire stations. 

The committee met May 11 and is scheduled to meet again at 5:30 p.m. May 18.

The committee’s current plan would place the new police building on the west side of the existing HERC building, leaving room for the city to build a two-story fire station in the future. 

“We originally thought the sistering of the two buildings … on the east side of (HERC), but we found that would crowd too much for the future fire department so we moved it over to the west side and then left ample room for the new fire station which would be sometime in the future,” said Public Safety Review Committee member Ken Castner.

The committee aims to use the HERC building for as many non-essential applications as possible, thereby shrinking the size of the new police station the city will build. 

Non-essential services include evidence storage, handling rooms, training rooms, locker rooms, police shooting range, an entrance for transporting prisoners, and vehicle evidence storage, Castner said. The building codes for the housing of non-essential services are not as strict – and match with the existing structure of the HERC building without major modification – as the requirements for buildings housing essential services. Dispatch and records, which are a part of essential services, would be housed in the new building. 


“We’re aiming for the smallest addition we can have while serving every need that this study has identified,” Castner said. “The chief of police will be working directly with the lead architect with the actual matchups … so they’re not running all through two buildings to get to where they need to be and so everything is built with diligence and intelligence.”


Castner mentioned that although the Homer Soccer Association’s planned South Peninsula Athletic and Recreation Center will meet needs for recreation space for games like pickleball lost by the utilization of HERC in the public safety project, he would like the committee to refer to the Parks and Recreation Commission to address the loss of the skate park.


The City Council also voted to approve Ordinance 16-21(S), which appropriates funds up to an amount of $189,000 from the general fund to The Homer Foundation for the construction of SPARC. The City of Homer will give $1 for every $2 of cash contributions that The Homer Foundation receives for the project, and $0.50 for each $2 in-kind contribution approved by the city manager.


The council also removed the city’s ban on drug paraphernalia, formerly ordinance 16-23, which would have made the syringe exchange program illegal.