Mat-Su officials seek more office space

Posted: Sunday, January 25, 2009

WASILLA - Matanuska-Susitna Borough officials say they've outgrown their headquarters and they're taking steps to find expanded office space.

In a meeting last week, borough assembly members discussed alternatives for housing a growing staff and ordered borough manager John Duffy to research proposals for 10,000 to 20,000 square feet of leased office space.

"If we don't do something in our lifetime to solve these space issues we're going to have a tough time hiring people to shove in here," said Assemblyman Tom Kluberton.

Assemblywoman Michelle Church called current offices too small and old. Maintenance costs are $400,000 per year, Duffy said.

The Dorothy Swanda Jones Building in downtown Palmer was built more than 70 years ago. It houses almost every major borough department in about 54,000 square feet.

The borough needs at least 15,000 more square feet, Duffy said.

Added on to the space concerns are the needs of the only major department not under that roof, emergency services. Administrative staffers for that department are in a fire station on the Seward Meridian Parkway.

The department occupies about 1,600 square feet and is shoehorned into a building not meant to hold it, said Dennis Brodigan, director of emergency services.

"The Wasilla Lakes Fire Service Area staff would like this to be a fully functioning fire rescue/ambulance station and kick us out of here," he said.

Three proposals have been explored for expansion: moving into the gymnasium attached to the borough building; using the old school district administrative building in Palmer; or pursuing property on Palmer-Wasilla Highway. None have strong support.

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