Community center great idea and it's not a costly Taj Mahal

Posted: Monday, February 23, 2004

I would like to get this information out to the Nikiski residents to offset the flyer that was handed out last week at the Nikiski Post Office. Holly Norwood stated that the North Peninsula Recreation Service Area wanted to build a Taj Mahal Community Center. Well, before we all get upset and in turmoil over this issue, calling Nikiski Elementary the Taj Mahal is absurd.

Let me state that the words to describe the actions of NPRSA are a far cry from the Taj Mahal. Please understand it is just a tactic used to make any level-headed person get angry. As we all well know, we do not need anything fancy in order to have a community center, and the NPRSA leaders have no intentions of creating a Taj Mahal. They simply are taking advantage of an opportunity that fell into their hands over the merging of two schools.

I feel the issue Holly is really battling is not with the recreation service area, but with the school district. She mentioned in her flyer that Nikiski residents should get together to stop the merging of two schools. I was under the impression that it is already a done deal. I, for one, was against the merge; who wants to see a school close in their own community!

Let's focus on picking up the pieces and do the best we can with what we have.

I see an opportunity for the North Peninsula Recreation Service Area to jump on, and it is to our benefit. I now pay a membership fee to the Kenai Boys and Girls Club each year for all three kids, and then on top of that I pay a $50 fee for each program they provide. With that said, why not put money back into our own community? The survey that NPRSA sent out gave the board the facts 108 supported it over the opposing 11. Based on the survey, we, as Nikiski residents, are more than willing to spend an amount averaged to $67.49 more each year in taxes to support a community center. I spend more than that in a year just in gas to use the Kenai facilities.

It takes money to make money. I also see our own residents renting facilities in Kenai for weddings and large group gatherings that we can and should be able to provide with our own community center. Our board needs to take a look at the facts in regard to the survey.

Holly Norwood obviously has the facts to present in regard to a school reconfiguration, but the school is going to be closed. Based on her flyer, she contradicts herself several times in the fact that it is going to be a burden to the taxpayer; she even supports building a new facility rather than using an already perfectly built building with a gym and playground. And guess what? We still would have $50,000 in utilities and the possible breaking down of a boiler as she stated in her opposition to use of an older building.

The mentioning of using the money to build onto the existing recreation facility or the senior center rather than take over the vacant school is ridiculous. I work for a construction company as an accountant, and the amount of $800,000 is far less than what it would take to build or add on to a new facility. Taking into account Davis-Bacon wages, architect fees and many other various construction costs, by the time we get done, you are talking millions of dollars. Look at what we are getting for $800,000 an entire school ready to be used.

Let's see, if someone gave you an old rundown house would you turn your nose at it and let it rot to the ground, or would you thank them and work on it little by little until it is the house of your dreams? This is what Nikiski is about. We pull together; we work hard for our great little community. The NPRSA board and staff are trying to do just that. They are looking ahead for the betterment of our community.

The center will a benefit not only for our kids, but also the entire family. The teen center within the center is a fantastic idea. What better ways to keep our kids supervised and provide them with fun activities that keep them out of trouble.

Please attend the meeting as Holly has asked that will be at 6 tonight at the pool.

Let's not make a mistake and decide to drive by a vacant, rundown school building each day when we can make it into something we call can benefit from!

Jane E. Griffel

Nikiski



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