A proposal to tear down the Homer Educational and Recreation Complex – or HERC building – to make way for a new public safety building has many Homer residents asking, “What about Parks and Rec?”
Although the City of Homer does maintain several parks within the city limits and does fund the popular Community Recreation program, Homer is still one of the largest cities in Alaska that does not have a full Parks and Recreation Department. But is that something the city should prioritize?
Homer City Manager Walt Wrede says there are many individual advocacy groups in Homer with an eye toward parks and rec – including runners, bicyclists and pickle ball players – but what hasn’t really happened so far is a coordinated effort to push the Homer City Council for a full-time parks and rec department.
"In my experience here, (the council) listens to people," said Wrede. "But over the years, they really haven't heard a loud and clear message form the recreation community that this is what they want. And I think our budget reflects that. There's very little money in the budget for Parks and Rec."
The city does pay for parks maintenance, says Wrede, and contributes about $80,000 per year for the Community Rec program.
A recent push on the part of the Homer City Council to fund a new public safety building and build the new facility on the site of the Homer Educational and Recreational Complex – or HERC – building could mean the gymnasium at that site would be torn down.
Wrede says the city is asking consultants working on that project about the possibility of keeping the gym. Meanwhile, a new group has formed recently in Homer to advocate for parks and recreation. “Recreate Rec” been holding monthly meetings at the Homer Public Library. The group has stated that one of its main goals is to build a community center in Homer.