“The right of the people freely to assemble” is enshrined in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
For Alaskans to exercise our right of public assemblage, we need indoor heated space. Places of public assemblage in Homer include churches, schools, restaurants, bars, lodges and cafes. A stellar example is the HERC (Homer Education and Recreation Complex) building, the old Homer Intermediate School, with its fine gymnasium and bleachers. For decades the gymnasium served as a place of public assemblage for dances, sporting events, public meetings, and most recently, the Homer Boys and Girls Club.
Now the city of Homer proposes to destroy one of Homer’s finest places of public assemblage and education because of asbestos. Yes, asbestos exists in the building, but it’s not falling down; no one is coughing. The asbestos could be permanently and safely contained within a covering layer.
The city also claims the building is too expensive to heat, relative to the income it generates. Community service, recreation and education organizations could easily operate the facility’s classrooms, offices, gymnasium and kitchen at a profit, especially if the building were retro-fitted with solar, wind and geo-thermal heating systems.
Homeranians, please question the city’s plans to destroy this public assemblage facility.