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UAS, Guard may build rec center

Posted: Monday, November 13, 2000

The state university and the Alaska Army National Guard are considering a joint recreation and drill facility near Auke Bay.

National Guard and University of Alaska Southeast officials presented the plan to a committee of the University of Alaska Board of Regents in Fairbanks last week.

"The National Guard needs a new building, and the university has needed a recreational facility for years, and this is one way to do it," said university regent Frances Rose of Anchorage.

The University of Alaska Southeast has long wanted a gym and indoor running track. And the Alaska Army National Guard expects to vacate its downtown Juneau subport building and armory someday.

UAS has planned a 20,000-square-foot gym next to Egan Library for $5.2 million, but the Legislature hasn't funded it. The National Guard has designed a $9.5 million, 40,000-square-foot readiness center for the Lemon Creek area. But funding for construction is stalled.

Now the parties are talking about a joint-use building of 55,000 square feet on university land between Auke Bay Elementary School and UAS student housing. The National Guard also would place a $2.3 million, 8,000-square-foot vehicle maintenance shop on the site for its use.

Under a proposed budget, the university would put $5.2 million toward a joint-use building, said UAS facilities director Keith Gerken. That would pay to enlarge the drill hall into a collegiate-size gym with bleachers seating 750, enlarge the locker rooms and showers, and add other spaces, he said.

Students would have use of the gym, an indoor running track, a two-story climbing wall, and exercise, dance and weight rooms, as well as a lounge, kitchen and classrooms, Gerken said. The university budget also would allow for an outdoor soccer field.

The university gains by developing a larger site than the one next to Egan Library and by having use of a bigger building, Gerken said.

The National Guard also hopes the partnership with the university will increase its chances of getting the necessary federal military construction funds, said National Guard Maj. Gen. Phil Oates, commissioner of the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. Those funds also require a state match.

Under the plan, the university would continue to own the land and the National Guard would own the building. The parties would share operating and maintenance expenses.

The National Guard would use the drill hall/gym one weekend a month and possibly for two weeks once a year. Part of the building would house offices the National Guard would use year-round.

The full Board of Regents is scheduled to meet Thursday and Friday in Fairbanks to approve a capital projects list to present to the Legislature. The regents could include $5.2 million for the joint facility, Gerken said.



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