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HERC task force finalizes building recommendations

Courtesy of the City of Homer

The Homer Education and Recreation Complex Task Force approved its final report to the city council earlier this week. The task force has been meeting since June to answer questions about the HERC building as well as recommend what the city should do with the building going into the future.

The city currently has the former school building on life support and funds only minimal operation costs. Residents only use the lower level for recreational activities. The task force recommends that the city make some repairs to the building but otherwise continue operating it as is for the next five years. The task force also found that the second story could be safely used without major renovations.

But task force members found that the HERC building likely has about five years left before it will need major capital improvements. As for the question of how to afford those improvements, the task force says another group will have to answer that question.

Julie Engebretsen is Homer’s deputy city planner, and she said the preferred funding mechanism is a private-public partnership.

“The HERC building at 16,000 square feet is more than the city can probably support on its own as a recreational facility,” she said. “We need a partner in that building to help us pay ongoing maintenance costs and utility costs and all the things that come with owning a large structure.”

If no money shows up in the next five years, the plan offers a range of options, including demolishing the building and potentially building a new facility. The task force will present its report to the Homer City Council on Dec. 10 and members of the task force will be on KBBI’s Coffee Table on Dec. 12. 

Renee joined KBBI in 2017 as a general assignment reporter and host. Her work has appeared on such shows as Weekend Edition Saturday, The World, Marketplace and Studio 360. Renee previously interned as a reporter for KPCC in Los Angeles and as a producer for Stateside at Michigan Radio. Her work has earned her numerous press club awards. She holds an M.S. in journalism from the University of Southern California and a B.A. in women's studies from the University of Michigan.