Assembly puts playground on ballot

Posted: Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Voters in October will be asked whether they want to fund part of a new covered play area at Dzantik'i Heeni Middle School, the Juneau Assembly decided Monday.

Members voted unanimously to put the project on the ballot after hearing from about eight members of the public who spoke in support of it. No one spoke in opposition Monday.

Fifteen-year-old Devin Drones, who said he grew up in the neighborhood, said two planned basketball courts were much-needed.

"As kids, we played with the same rusty playground equipment Carlos Boozer used back in the day," Drones said. Boozer, a local high school star, now plays for the Utah Jazz.

The proposed playground is a 60-foot by 100-foot covered area on school grounds with translucent roofing, a concrete slab and lighting.

In addition to basketball, it would be used for outside classroom instruction and other activities at the school, principal Barb Mecum said.

"For the neighborhood it's wonderful but for the educational programs, it's essential," she said.

The ballot question will ask whether the city should issue up to $1.6 million in general obligation bonds to build the project.

The covered play area would qualify for a 70 percent state reimbursement under Alaska's School Construction Bond Debt Program. If the state fully funds the program, the total debt for taxpayers would be $65,000.

The cost to a property owner would be $2 per year for every $100,000 in assessed value. Payback would be over a 10-year period.

"For this small price, we will have a rock-solid, concrete and steel facility that will keep literally thousands of students and neighborhood kids dry while learning, exercising and playing outdoors," said Peter Froehlich of Friends of Dzantik'i Heeni.

The project is expected to be the only issue on the ballot. Voters also will fill three Assembly seats and two Juneau School Board seats during the Oct. 7 municipal election.



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