Local News

Assembly approves Centennial Hall design

An architect's rendering of the renovated Harrigan Centennial Hall (Courtesy of McCool Carlson Green)

An architect’s rendering of the renovated Harrigan Centennial Hall (Courtesy of McCool Carlson Green)

The Sitka Assembly on Tuesday night (4-23-14) unanimously approved the latest design for the renovation of Harrigan Centennial Hall.

The assembly had two options. They could approve a more “basic” renovation, including a new roof, new plumbing and electricity, new bathrooms and a new kitchen. Or they could endorse the architects’ full plan, which includes a new space for the Sitka Historical Museum, larger meeting rooms, and a more ambitious overhaul of the building’s exterior, including new landscaping on the hall’s south side.

At a work session before the assembly’s regular meeting, the building design committee, made up of Sitka residents, joined city staff in unanimously supporting the more ambitious plan.

Committee member Fred Reeder called Centennial Hall the “crown jewel” of Sitka.

“Every Sitkan either gets married here or dies here,” Reeder said, to laughter. “Or does something in this building.”

The city estimates that the full expansion would cost about $16-million, which would come from a combination of outside grants and the commercial passenger excise tax, also known as the cruise ship “head tax.”  The city already has over $10-million on hand, and the Alaska House and Senate have both included over $3-million for the project in their proposed capital budgets. The final budget, however, has been held up in last-minute legislative wrangling.

City Finance Director Jay Sweeney said that it’s in the city’s interest to make this project happen, whether or not the state funds materialize.

“If there is one single project that I would step forward as finance director and say that we had to do, and do right, and do the best we could, it would be the centennial building,” he said. “It’s the one place everybody steps foot in.”

Sweeney said that if necessary, the city can borrow from itself – essentially taking money from an existing fund and paying it back over time with future head tax dollars.

“And if it winds up that CPET funds for some unknown reason, are found to be objectionable to be used in this way, then I’ll find you a different way to pay for it,” Sweeney said. “I’m confident that there are multiple avenues to get this funded and it’s the right thing to do.”

In the end, the assembly voted 7-0 to approve the full expansion.

 

 

 

 

Comments

Please read our comment guidelines.

Recent News

Transportation planners look to road-and-ferry solution in SE

The M/V Columbia, recently re-powered, is not one of the three ships which could possibly be retired soon. (Flickr/Gillfoto)
State planners still see a road across Baranof Island as an important part of transportation infrastructure -- though it may take decades to become reality. The Department of Transportation held an open house and informational meeting in Sitka this week (8-20-14) on the latest draft of the Southeast Alaska Transportation Plan. And while maintaining and refurbishing the ferry system is high on the list of priorities for the region, major road construction -- both in Juneau and in Sitka -- remains on the books. more

Dry weather to bring relief for HPR drivers?

Contractors roll out the CABC, or "Crushed Asphalt Base Course," in preparation for paving HPR outbound from SeaMart. The DOT says the road will be finished -- or have a temporary surface -- by the end of the paving season mid-September. (KCAW photo/Robert Woolsey)
Sitka drivers frustrated by poor road conditions on Halibut Point Road during this summer’s paving project can take heart: It’s going to get better. Al Clough, the Southeast Regional director for the Department of Transportation says that while heavy rains have been a setback, the road will be done -- or a driveable temporary surface in place -- by the end of the paving season a month from now. more