Task force gets up close look at HERC

Those tasked with determining the future of the Homer Education and Recreation Complex got an up-close look at what they’re dealing with — decades old buildings in various stages of disrepair — during a walk-through held in place of their last meeting June 26.

It was the body’s first time meeting as an eight-person task force, with the addition of Deb Lowney from the Parks, Art, Recreation and Culture Commission. Lowney was added as a voting member to the force after the Homer City Council voted on June 25 to expand the body to specifically include a member of PARCAC. Previously, the resolution that set up the task force merely stated that it could have up to one member from the commission sitting on it as a voting member.

Deputy City Planner Julie Engebretsen led the task force and members of the public through both buildings, along with city staff with knowledge of the buildings and Mike Illg, another member of PARCAC and director of the city’s Community Recreation Program.

Task force members listened to a rundown of the current state of the buildings and asked questions about their construction and history, as did the members of the public who tagged along.

The buildings used to come with a caveat from the city which limited them to being used solely for community recreation purposes. That is no longer the case, Engebretsen said. The task force is charged with determining whether the upper level of the HERC building currently used by the public can be utilized without capital improvements. The council has also directed the body to figure out the minimum improvements needed for the entire HERC facility to be used safely, as well as what it would cost to demo the HERC and build a new facility for community recreation needs.

As it currently stands, the gym in the main HERC building is up to code to accommodate 50 people at a time. The bleachers had to be removed because they left the potential for more people to enter the room. City staff told the task force that, if they wanted to expand the recreation opportunities in the HERC gym, significant improvements would have to be made to bring it further up to code and allow for a higher occupancy.

While the building with the gym on the lower level is the only one in which members of the public are regularly allowed, both buildings are used for city surplus storage. Mike Riley, who represented the city’s building maintenance department during the walk-through, has his office in the HERC building that’s currently in worse shape and where the public is not allowed. He said that, should it ultimately be decided that the HERC be torn down and replaced with something else, the city would have to figure out where to store all those surplus items.

Riley said that, with a new police station being built, there is the potential that the old station on Heath Street could be used for storage, but that building comes with its own host of issues.

Engebretsen asked task force members at the end of the tour to compile a list of questions they had following the walk-through that can be forwarded to consultants helping them work on the issue. They also had several questions for the city and members of PARCAC relating to the history of the buildings.

Reach Megan Pacer at mpacer@homernews.com.

More in News

Clem Tillion of Halibut Cove poses for a photo on Jan. 9, 2020, in Homer, Alaska. The veteran Alaska legislator was passing through Homer while waiting to take the M/V Tustumena ferry to Kodiak. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
Clem Tillion, PFD founder and former legislator, dies at 96

Tillion died Wedneday, Oct. 13, at Halibut Cove home.

Donna Aderhold recites the Homer City Council oath of office and is sworn in for duty at the city council meeting on Oct. 11. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
New council members sworn into duty Monday

Newly-elected Homer City Council members Shelly Erickson and Jason Davis and re-elected… Continue reading

The Homer City Council met with new council members for the first time Oct. 11. The election results were certified during the meeting and council members Shelly Erickson, Donna Aderhold and Jason Davis were sworn in. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
City of Homer 2020 audit shows clean financial records

The City of Homer received a clean audit for the 2020 fiscal… Continue reading

The Homer Election Canvass Board counted the final Homer City Council election ballots Friday, Oct. 8. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
Election results certified in municipal elections

Aderhold, Erickson, Davis win Homer City Council; Tupper wins Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly, District 9; Daugharty wins Kenai Peninsula Borough Board of Education, District 8.

Commercial fishing and other boats are moored in the Homer Harbor in this file photo. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
Seawatch: Crabbers look at cuts to quotas

Tanner, opilio crab quotas cut on top of cancellation of fall king crab fishery.

Several members of the Alaksa House of Representatives were absent form a floor session Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021, but after a quiet first week lawmakers are scheduled to hold committee meetings through the end of the week. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
COVID cases delay Senate

Still slow going.

Most Read