Homer Alaska - News

Story last updated at 4:37 PM on Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Playground project gets big fundraising boost

Staff Writer

As it moves towards its goal of raising $220,000 to build a new playground at Karen Hornaday Park, the Homer Playground Project on Monday added another digit to its balance. At the Feb. 13 meeting of the Homer City Council when project coordinator Miranda Weiss spoke, she told the council HoPP had raised $78,000. By Monday's meeting, HoPP was going to raise another $22,000, bringing its balance to $100,000 when the council would be voting on appropriating $50,000 to the project.

Maybe she had spoken too soon, Weiss said Monday night. HoPP didn't reach that goal.

"I'm really excited to say we didn't raise $22,000," she said to cheers from HoPP supporters. "We raised $31,000."

Soldotna Mayor Peter Micciche then said he had to correct Weiss. Micciche, a big booster of a similar project in Soldotna, came with his wife Erin and their two children to testify in favor of the city council appropriation.

"We really take a lot of pride in it," Erin Micciche said of the Soldotna playground. "It's our own little piece of utopia in Soldotna, in competition with the utopia in Homer."

Mayor Micciche, who works for ConocoPhillips, said HoPP's figure should be $41,000, because ConocoPhillips gave it a grant of $10,000. That announcement brought even louder cheers from supporters.

The city council that night approved the $50,000 appropriation, bringing HoPP's current total of funds raised to $169,000, just $51,000 shy of its $220,000 goal.

"This project is not about fundraising," Weiss said. "It's about building a fantastic new playground. The fun side of this is we're going to need hundreds of people in the park over eight days in May."

The build week is scheduled May 20-27. HoPP holds a build week informational presentation and meeting 5:30-7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 7, at Paul Banks Elementary School. HoPP is especially looking for about 15 build week captains to supervise crews of volunteers. Along with builders, volunteers also are needed to run a kitchen and provide child care.

Volunteers work with two professional playground builders from Play By Design.

Micciche called Soldotna's build week "like a clean, family Woodstock."

"It's kind of a party," Weiss said. "It's a lot of work, but a good time."

With 75 percent of its budget raised, Weiss said HoPP will order building materials now to get supplies on site before break up and road weight restrictions go in place.

The city council appropriated the $50,000 from a legislative grant for improvements at Karen Hornaday Park. It also approved memos outlining recommendations made by the Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission for how to spend the balance of that grant as follows:

• $90,000 for improvements of the day use area, including repair of a shelter and drainage improvements;

• $40,000 for improvements to Little League fields and dugouts, and

• $55,000 for northern parking lot improvements.

The Parks and Recreation Commission also recommended the city do engineering to put a bridge over Wood- ard Creek and make road realignment and drainage improvements.

In other action, the council:

• Approved the East End Mixed Use zoning district;

• Appropriated $80,000 for new City Hall furniture;

• Accepted $35,512.50 in a vessel passenger tax pass through grant from the Kenai Peninsula Borough;

• Appropriated $27,275 for a used skid-mounted steamer unit;

• Passed a resolution supporting a $1 per million cubic feet tariff on natural gas to Homer as a local contribution to the proposed Anchor Point to Homer gas line, and

• Approved a memo for a public art display plan in City Hall (see story, page 13).

The next council meeting is 6 p.m. March 12.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at michael. armstrong@homernews.com.