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Sterling community center slated for spring 2013 completion

'Six months in'

Posted: December 26, 2012 - 9:46pm  |  Updated: December 26, 2012 - 9:51pm
Photo by M. Scott MoonThe Sterling community center is nearing completion.  Photo by M. Scott Moon
Photo by M. Scott Moon
Photo by M. Scott MoonThe Sterling community center is nearing completion.

Construction of the Sterling Community Center is progressing smoothly, and people close to the project said they hope the building will open in spring 2013. If the 13,000 square-foot center opens by April, it will have been completed in less than a year.

“The concrete foundation was poured the last week of June,” said Sterling Community Club President Bob Oakes. “For a large project like this, we’re doing very well at six months in.”

Builders and electricians will continue to work on the center through the winter. Then, its amenities will be put into place. The club plans to formulate the center’s policies and procedures during winter break work sessions. Most Sterling residents look forward to its completion, the club members said.

The center rests on the same property as Sterling’s original one-room schoolhouse and log cabin post office, not far from the Sterling Highway. It will include a large gym, a library, a kitchen, bathrooms and a locker room. Club trustee Grace Merkes said the club hopes it will be youth-oriented and operating costs will be covered through membership or rental fees.

As of Dec. 19, about 90 percent of the center’s high-voltage wiring and about 80 percent of the low-voltage wiring was complete, Oakes said. Other sections already have been wired, and workers are insulating and placing drywall. The cold weather slowed construction, however.

“It’s hard to push people at these temperatures,” Oakes said. “And it’s hard to pull wire at zero degrees.”

Wiring and insulating the building is most important to its completion, as it needs to be heated, he said.

In a previous interview with the Clarion, club trustee Merkes said the center’s estimated price tag was about $2 million. Currently, the construction is costing $100 per square foot, well below the initial price estimate. The club also has received a $120,000 grant from the Rasmuson Foundation for equipment. The overall cost still sits below that estimation, Oakes said.

The Rasmuson grant will pay for equipment like bleachers and lockers — the placement of which constitutes the center’s next phase toward completion. Merkes said there are plans to apply for additional $25,000 grants through Rasmuson, which encouraged the club to do so.

“(Rasmuson) is supportive of what we’re doing,” Merkes said. “We fortunately got the grant, and they’re going to provide the money before we purchase equipment for some projects; stuff like basketball hoops and bleachers.”

Once the Sterling community center is completed, operations will be funded through rental fees and memberships. The memberships are intended for Sterling residents, people who wish to use the center on a regular basis, Oakes said. The club has not set the prices but hopes to have an idea following the holiday season.

Oakes and Merkes said the majority of community feedback they’ve received since the center’s construction began has been positive. Sterling’s teenagers are excited about their stake in the project. The old school will serve as a teen clubhouse; they’ve submitted the idea of selling concessions to buy table tennis and pool tables.

The whole facility is meant for kids, however.

“It’s mostly for the kids,” Oakes said. “That’s the whole idea, so they have somewhere to go after school.”

The post office will serve as a community museum, or that’s the plan so far.

Some Sterling residents are skeptical about the center’s operational costs, and others have unrealistic ideas about what should be available at the center. They want gym equipment, Oakes said, but that’s not going to happen. Private enterprises capable of hiring fitness trainers should fill that role, he said.

“That’s too much of a liability,” he said. “For the most part, people are digging in and showing their support. It’s going to be used what we originally intended it to be used for.”

Jerzy Shedlock can be reached at jerzy.shedlock@peninsulaclarion.com.

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kenai-king
232
Points
kenai-king 12/28/12 - 08:49 am
0
0
Land Taxes

You show me one building like this that pays for itself in Alaska and maybe I'll think different. But history will tell you that there is no way it will pay for itself.

cheapersmokes
778
Points
cheapersmokes 12/29/12 - 07:35 am
1
0
Kenai-King!

Sometimes local governments have to do things to benefit or fill a need in their community without wondering if they will ever pay for themselves. If it gets the kids in the town out and interacting with others instead of sitting at home on the computers talking trash it will be well worth the costs. Way to go Sterling!

kenai-king
232
Points
kenai-king 12/29/12 - 08:23 am
0
1
cheapersmokes

So now it will be my pocket book to look after somebody else's kids. I already pay taxes for kids I don't have to go to school. So I believe everybody that has kids should be taxed for the up keep of this not me.

cheapersmokes
778
Points
cheapersmokes 12/29/12 - 08:33 am
1
0
Kenai King

This has been going on for centuries now. People who had no kids paid for your education and so much more for you and now it is time for you to step up and return the favors you received!

Let's face it the politicians will find something to spend your tax money on and at least this has the potential to greatly increase the quality of life for the kids in the area!

kenai-king
232
Points
kenai-king 12/29/12 - 09:07 am
0
1
cheapersmokes

I don't mind paying for education, I do mind paying for recreation.

Seafarer
1147
Points
Seafarer 01/02/13 - 05:46 pm
0
0
Kenai King

Sometimes recreation IS education. When kids gather there for whatever reason, it is wholesome, monitored, and certainly NOT boring, like Sterling can be for a kid.

Whoever decided that a highway begets a town, like all three "towns" here must have been nuts. It begets urban sprawl, as evidenced in Soldotna and Kenai. Both are strip mall cities. There's no Main Street, no sidewalks with awnings over them from businesses. No such thing as a "stroll thru town" here. So, people must gather in buildings. It is really evident in Sterling. There is nowhere for kids, or adults, for that matter, to congregate. If I was rich, I'd add a bowling alley and a pool. The Senior Center only offers Bingo once a month, if that. We Sterling Folks have not much to socialize! I,personally, can't wait for some Spaghetti Feeds close to home! I even volunteer to cook right here and now!

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