By Ed Fry
January 31, 2011
What to do with the Smithers pool? Let’s look at what we are spending so far. The current aquatic project is contracted at $23.5 Million Dollars. It would be nice if that number was concrete! With cost over runs, I would bet that we will be more in the upward neighborhood of $27 Million if not higher after the keys are handed over.
The Smithers Building will cost over a million to tear it down. If it is retrofitted, that will be upward of millions to bring it to code in hopes that its re-use will provide additional services to families of both City and KGB. A multi-use facility would be idea but very costly in transition; there is no way around that. Tack that on to the $23.5 Million.
When we are looking for ideas, we should look at the Ketchikan big picture; look at what will help offset some of the cost, as a fiscal responsible government should, while increasing viable solutions in Southeast Alaska. A multi use facility that has a pool can be a blessing for several industries in the Southeast such as aviation, public safety, and maritime. All of which can be found here. Problem is that all of the industries have to send their employees out of the area for sector specific training; very costly for the agencies as well as an inconvenience for the industries.
Where I am going with this is that you can have a mixed use facility that can cater to a regional training facility for industries here as well as have a family center that will give you a conversion for an indoor soccer field as well as portable batting cages. The pool could be dive training for rescuers, dunk/disorientation tank for pilots, and a construction lab for the maritime trades including a partnership with University of Alaska Ketchikan and the High school.
So before we start inking the paper, think outside the box for the best bang for the buck. Let’s not dump money into ideas that will serve a few and not all; we all have to pay for it!
Received January 31, 2011 - Published January 31, 2011
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