Story last updated at 2:38 p.m. Thursday, December 5, 2002

Homer campus set for growth
by Chris Bernard
Staff Writer

If the University of Alaska Board of Regents approves a proposal by the Kachemak Bay Branch of the Kenai Peninsula College to expand its current East Campus location on Pioneer Avenue, it will be the fulfillment of a 16-year-dream.

"This is something we've been trying to do for a long, long time," said campus director Carol Swartz.

Now, thanks to Proposition C being overwhelmingly approved last month by voters, schools statewide find themselves with the money to expand.

For the Kachemak Bay Branch, $3 million has been allocated to build a 10,000-square-foot addition to its East Campus, located next door to Homer City Hall.

The space would create new classrooms, lab and art space and a student commons, among other things, Swartz said.

As part of the expansion, the college is considering purchasing Bearfoot Trailer Park, a 2.3-acre parcel of land adjacent to the campus. The expansion would provide more parking for teachers and students, she said.

The college currently owns the 7,200-square-foot East Campus, and rents its West Campus, also on Pioneer Avenue, from the City of Homer.

"Everything we've got right now was built for a temporary purpose," Swartz said. "It got to a point where we were too cramped for space."

The University's Land Manage-ment Office has entered an agreement with the owner of Bearfoot Trailer Park. Tenants have been informed of the possible sale.

Rita-Jo Shoultz, who has owned the park since 1976, said the college initiated the sale.

"I think it's absolutely wonderful," she said. "It's a perfect location for them as well."

Shoultz expressed some concern about uprooting the 22 tenants of the park, especially since there is not enough space in other Homer trailer parks to absorb them. But she said she's doing what she can to help with the transition.

"Some of these trailers are too old to move, and the owners are going to have to find someplace else to live," she said. "I've gone down to the low-income housing office and got applications for them, and I've contacted real estate companies and given them the list of tenants, hoping they can find some suitable property for them to move their trailers to.

"I'm trying to do the very best I can," she said. "Some of these folks have been there for 14 years."

UAA recently selected the Anchorage-based architectural firm of McCool, Carlson and Green for the design, which is expected to be completed by mid-February. The UAA Board of Regents will consider the proposal at its Feb 21 meeting.

"We're not even in our design phase yet," Swartz said. "We don't know if the addition will spill down into the new lot, or any of the details yet. Right now, we're just excited about the chance to make these plans."

Bid award for the contract is scheduled for next fall, with construction beginning the following spring. Completion is set for the summer of 2005.

The Kachemak Bay Branch currently serves 525 full- and part-time degree and nondegree students, which represents an 18.75 percent increase over last fall.

Chris Bernard can be reached at cbernard@homernews.com.

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