FNSB Building

The Fairbanks North Star Borough Juanita Helms Administration Center is seen Saturday, June 20, 2020, in Fairbanks. Caitlin Miller/News-Miner

The Borough Assembly has approved a plan laying out more than $100 million worth of public construction projects over the next 10 years.

Future assemblies would need to allocate about $10 million a year toward facilities maintenance to maintain the new Capital Improvement Program, which was created after leaders identified a backlog of repairs across dozens of public facilities.

Remodeling the John Weaver Memorial Skatepark, replacing the animal shelter, putting an addition on the Noel Wien Public Library, refurbishing the South Cushman rifle range, replacing the roof at the Carlson Center, replacing restrooms and offices at Pioneer Park and renovating the Riverboat Nenana are among about 65 projects in the plan.

Other projects are cosmetic and mechanical system upgrades, including new bathrooms, at Tanana Middle School; repairs and upgrades at the Juanita Helms Borough Administration Center; structural repairs at the Big Dipper Ice Arena; and improvements at the Tanana Lakes Recreation Area.

The vote on the plan was 6-3 on Thursday. The Capital Improvement Program was about a year in the making.

“I like the fact that we actually have a plan and that it identifies funding sources for each project in the plan over time,” Assemblyman Matt Cooper said in a text message. “We haven’t had much of a plan in the past, and it led to one-off capital improvements that weren’t based on a comprehensive view of borough capital needs.”

Borough Mayor Bryce Ward said he will ask the assembly to appropriate money for the plan later this summer. The CIP would mostly be funded via property taxes.

Ward led the planning effort starting with project nominations that were due in October. Ninety-six projects were suggested. The mayor winnowed the list, the projects were scored and leaders honed the list even more. They delayed the final vote until this month due to COVID-19.

Assemblymen Aaron Lojewski, Jimi Cash and Frank Tomaszewski voted no on the program.

Lojewski said he was happy with the process of creating the plan but unhappy with the results, which he said includes too much fluff.

Cash is reluctant to get behind so much capital sending with the uncertain economy.

“There are several projects that I support fully but some projects on there I’m reluctant to support,” he said in a text message. “I didn’t want to vote for something with so much spending as a whole.”

Spoken testimony to the assembly was about specific projects with renovations at the Riverboat Nenana and refurbishment at the skateboard park getting the most attention.

The CIP also includes a new portable ice rink at the Carlson Center, revitalization at Chena Lake Recreation Area, a new parks maintenance shop, trails improvements, a new roof at the school district administrative center, traffic safety improvements at Pearl Creek Elementary School, playground equipment replacement at multiple parks and expansion of a pending new transit garage.

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

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