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Assembly Allocates $4 Million for Recreation Center

Published On: Dec 24 2013 04:49:03 PM AKST   Updated On: Dec 18 2013 12:44:04 AM AKST

After a lot of back and forth, the Anchorage Assembly allocated $4 million for a multi-use recreation facility.


The Anchorage Assembly voted Tuesday night to set aside $4.4 million of state dollars for a multi-use recreational center.

The money comes from a $37 million state grant awarded to the municipality. The Alaska Tennis Association lobbied for $7 million to kick start a project that would lead to an indoor tennis facility. 

"People have to understand, it hasn’t even been designed yet," said Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan. "There’s been no money to do anything but a broad conceptual, but clearly it’s been intended to be multi-use."

The proposed facility would be located next to the Dempsey-Anderson Arena and would accommodate other indoor sports such as Volleyball, badminton, and basketball.

Supporters, including the mayor say the recreation center would not only provide a new home for high school tennis teams but that it would also create another outlet for kids and young adults.

But the project was met with fierce resistance from neighbors who said it would add traffic to the already crowded Northern Lights Boulevard.

Some assembly members also argued the money should not have been requested under the “Project 80’s” budget, which is money set aside to rehabilitate aging buildings. 

Project 80’s buildings include the Egan Center, Sullivan Arena and other downtown facilities.

“There's been a lot of public testimony, a lot of public input on this process," Assembly Chair Ernie Hall told KTUU. "The community needs time to think about it, and we also need time to re-think what that facility might look like.

"We're all ready to kind of put this to rest for a while."

Previous attempts to set aside portions of the Project 80 funds failed.  Hall said the assembly's response does, however, provide some room for flexibility.

“The legislature really likes to see the term skin in the game, which would heighten under that scenario,” said Hall.  “The community would step up and say, 'Yes we want it, and we're willing to put up the money to see it completed.'"

The community Hall referred to could include the Alaska Tennis Association.

He said a motion by Assemblywoman Amy Demboski to have the remaining balance of the project paid for through bonds was defeated, in part because such a move is premature.

“At this point in time, I don't know that we have the actual dollars it would take to build this facility," he said. "Before you go to a bond issue, you certainly need to know the exact amount of money it would take for it.”

If interest in the project fizzles, the remaining $4.4 million could be used to repair other buildings.