FNSB Assembly Meeting

People attend a Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly meeting July 28, 2016.

The borough assembly votes on which public works projects will be ranked and scored by the administration Thursday in what is the next step in a process to create a new Capital Improvement Program.

Proposals can be added or removed from a list of 66 projects largely compiled by Borough Mayor Bryce Ward, according to Deputy Borough Clerk Adena Benn.

Later this year, a prioritized list will come back before the assembly, and the panel will discuss how to move forward.

“We can’t just continue to spend money here, and spend money there, as issues come up without having a long term strategy,” said Leah Berman Williams, chairwoman of the assembly finance committee.

Some assembly members said Friday that they are thinking about which projects are “wants” and which are “needs.”

The list of 66 projects that went out for public comment in December includes updating restrooms and replacing roofs. It includes new trailheads, parking lot improvements, new playground equipment, technology upgrades, furniture replacement, pool repairs, building additions and new buildings.

The projects add up to more than $300 million and include improvements at dozens of borough facilities, from a new $300,000 emergency power generator at the Birch Hill Recreation Area to a new $107 million indoor athletic complex.

At least two assembly members want to cut the proposals for new facilities and focus on catching up on maintaining current public facilities. Others want to keep the list long and see which projects get top scores.

Questions to the mayor about how the projects will be scored were not answered in time for this story, but Ward has said that safety and school projects would get more weight.

“Scoring will analyze the current conditions of a facility and future use,” states to a description on the Capital Improvement Program website, www.fnsb.us/CIP/Pages/default.aspx.

Matt Cooper, presiding officer of the assembly, said he is hearing from people about preserving the SS Nenana, improving trails and updating the borough shooting range.

“I really hope to hear from more people on some of the other projects on the list,” he said in a text message.

Williams wants to create project categories. She suggested four categories—school projects, fixing public buildings, enhancing public buildings and cultural heritage projects. Resources could be spread around to each category, she said.

“One of the challenges is I look at all of these proposals and they are all important,” she said. “I don’t see a reason to take things off the list until we have more data about them.”

Assemblywoman Liz Lyke agreed. She wants as many projects as possible to go forward for scoring.

“That scoring will really help us figure out the feasibility of these things,” she said.

Assemblyman Aaron Lojewski and Assemblywoman Marna Sanford said they prefer a more restrained approach.

“I want to cut the list,” Sanford said.

Maintenance projects are her priority.

“We have a huge deferred maintenance backlog,” Lojewski agreed. “Take care of that. That’s where I am at.”

The borough’s facilities maintenance reserve account has about $25 million, according to Lanien Livingston, public information officer.

Contact staff writer Amanda Bohman at 459-7545. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMborough.

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