The Soldotna City Council met with city administration Wednesday night to discuss the city’s upcoming federal and state funding request for the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex renovation and expansion project.
At a Sept. 25 council meeting, the council adopted its Capital Improvement Plan with the sports complex as the city’s No. 1 priority with a funding request figure to be determined.
Attendees at Wednesday’s meeting discussed funding figures, community use and support and how the possibility of a future conference center affects the sports center project.
The price of the project was originally estimated at $23-27 million, but City Manager Mark Dixson, Parks and Recreation Director Andrew Carmichael and Nancy Casey of Casey Planning and Design met previously to talk redesign for the complex to bring down the project cost.
Dixson said he is “fairly certain” the project cost can get to $20 million without cutting amenities.
Carmichael brought up the option of a dome building for the expansion as an alternative, cheaper building option.
Current council members present at the workshop, Dale Bagley, Brenda Hartman, John Czarnezki and Regina Daniels, agreed to stick with the brick and mortar plan.
“A dome is always an option down the road,” Daniels said.
The Sept. 5 master plan final concept draft shows increased conference room space at the sports complex. But the city is considering a property it purchased from Davis Block and Concrete for a conference center.
Czarnezki was in favor of combining the conference center and sports complex to save some money.
Hartman said there needs to be some meeting space at the sports complex, but it can be downsized.
“I look at them as two different facilities,” Daniels said.
Michelle Glaves, Soldotna Chamber of Commerce executive director, said a conference center needs to be in town so it is within walking distance to restaurants and businesses. She said the city should focus on the sports complex at this time.
Bagley said he doesn’t think the project will get anywhere in Juneau.
“It is a big number,” Czarnezki said. “You have to make a good case for it.”
Hartman said the project needs to go forward so city and borough residents can be healthy and active throughout the winter.
Mayor Nels Anderson said the complex will get used, it’s just a question of funding.
“If they know about it, people will be supportive,” Carmichael said.
City Engineer Kyle Kornelis suggested asking for $10 million in the federal and state funding request.
Council then agreed to consider $3 million from the general fund and $3 million from a bond moving forward with the project.
In a Thursday email, Dixson said the city will seek $10 million from the governor’s budget, $1 million from the legislative budget for the roof and $6 million from the city. The $6 million will be funded in cash, bond and contributed sources. If the city pays the entire $6 million, it will likely be divided as council agreed, adding up to $17 million in funding.
“We will not decided on scope of amenities until final funding is achieved,” Dixson said.
Kaylee Osowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.