Among the projects included in a $236 million bond package expected to go to Alaska voters this fall are two that would enhance education at the University of Alaska's Kenai Peninsula College campuses at Soldotna and Homer.
The bond bill includes $3 million for classroom expansion and land acquisition at the Homer campus and another $825,000 for expanding classrooms at the Soldotna campus.
The Homer campus of Kenai Peninsula College is split into two buildings at opposite ends of downtown. The east campus occupies an old U.S. Post Office that is too small. Plans call for expanding the building into the parking lot separating it from Pioneer Avenue, Homer's main thoroughfare, and building additional classrooms, said Joseph M. Beedle, vice president for finance for the University of Alaska.
Doing that, would cut down on available parking, so part of the money would be used to acquire land either to the east, west or south of the current site, occupied respectively by a restaurant and hotel, Homer City Hall and a trailer park. Beedle said negotiations with surrounding land owners would begin soon. The university also owns some property in the heart of town that once was considered as a possible location for a new campus. Beedle said there was "no political possibility" of getting the money to do that.
Instead, the midtown land could be made surplus and sold or traded, with the proceeds added to the $3 million to widen the pool of financial resources available for infrastructure in Homer, he said.
The $850,000 in the bond package for the Soldotna campus would be used to eliminate a glass-enclosed hallway and expand three small classrooms. Beedle said the glass hallway was a good idea that proved problematic.
"It's too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter," he said. It wouldn't make a good greenhouse, he added.
Boosting the size of the three classrooms, however, would be "a significant enhancement," Beedle said.
Selling voters on the bond package will be key, he said.
"The university will try to get some volunteers to set up a political action committee separate from the university" to promote the bond measure, he said.
He said the university also expects to team with rural schools' officials and Native corporations to push for passage of the bond measure.
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