Homer community recreation offers new fall activities

The Homer Community Recreation Program offers an array of recreational and educational classes and programs for participants of all ages and is looking at a number of fall expansions and improvements on the horizon, Mike Illg, recreation manager for the City of Homer, said.

Illg, who has been with the department for 21 years, said community support has helped keep the recreation offerings strong. The program relies on its volunteers, partnerships and connections throughout the community.

This year approximately 80 people helped deliver the variety of programs the department offers to city residents, he said.

“I look at our program as an axis to partnerships with so many of the other organizations in the city.”

For example, the recreation program over the summer partnered with Pier One Theatre to provide practice space. Another key partnership is with the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District — because school facilities are where community recreation primarily operates, Illg said.

“Without the school district, we couldn’t do many of our programs,” he said.

Another primary facility community recreation uses is the city-owned HERC building.

“When we don’t have access to the schools, we’re able to put a lot of things into the HERC gym and activity room, as well,” he said. “We’re not sure what the future is for that building but we’re going to keep using it until we can’t be in there anymore.”

“We hope they’ll come up with a good solution for repairs and maintenance over the next few years.”

Community schools has a partnership with the Homer Public Library to offer a sports gear check-out system.

“That is an opportunity for anyone with a library card to start checking out sports gear and equipment including sleds, balls, games, metal detectors, hiking poles and more. If there’s anything that people might want to use to get active or just try our some new gear, check there,” Illg said.

Illg is looking into the idea of creating a “birder’s backpack” option to add to the library gear. “This will include a backpack, binoculars and local bird identification information that people might want to check out during the shorebird season,” Illg said.

There are a number of projects and programs coming up this fall.

The 2023 Cosmic Hamlet Pickleball Tournament will take place on Labor Day weekend, although the registration deadline for that event has already passed. There is a new Saturday youth tumbling class for ages 6 and up starting on Sept. 2 that will take place in the Homer High School mat room from 9-9:45 a.m.

Also coming up, in partnership with Sprout, there will be a clothing and gear swap for children under the age of 5 that will take place in the high school commons Sept. 16 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

Other classes coming up later this fall include a jewelry-making class with Art Koeninger and a beginner and intermediate Spanish language course with Hilda Caraballo. Dates and locations for these can be found on the community recreation website at https://www.cityofhomer-ak.gov/com-rec/community-recreation-program.

In order to accommodate expansions in the program, the Homer City Council has recently approved a permanent recreation programmer, Kathy Vogl, as a part-time employee, Illg said.

Vogl will officially start as a city employee in October, Illg said.

The council also approved a new software and online system where people can make reservations, payments and sign forms.

This will help the office better clarify how many people are attending events and count participation numbers, Illg said.

More information on large variety of other regularly scheduled fall activities open to the public can be found on the community recreation website or on the wall outside the office.

The community recreation office is located in the Homer High School commons and is open Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Reach Mike Illg directly at 907-235-6090.