Mary Siah Maintenance

Workers lay carpet in the entrance as maintenance is done at the Mary Siah Recreation Center Thursday afternoon, March 21, 2019. Work being done includes routine maintenance and cleaning as well as new windows, new lobby flooring, and painting. The facility is scheduled to reopen Monday, April 8.

Fairbanks North Star Borough leaders are seeking public opinion on the merits of dozens of public works projects worth more $300 million. Which ones ought to be scored and ranked for possible inclusion in a 10-year capital improvement plan?

Information and a film about the projects is available on the borough homepage at Emails to the Borough Assembly have started and spoken testimony will be accepted at the Jan. 16, 2020, assembly meeting. It is then that the assembly decides which projects go to the next level — scoring with weight given to safety and school projects, according to Borough Mayor Bryce Ward.

At a finance committee meeting on Thursday, assembly members debated whether to begin culling the list or to put it out for public comment. Ward’s preferred projects, totaling 66, were approved with two changes. The assembly removed a project spending $500,000 on highway welcome signs and added a $1.5 million proposal for portable ice at the Carlson Center.

“Before I start removing things, I’d like to hear more from the public,” said Matt Cooper, presiding officer of the assembly.

“I am just really concerned that the public is not going to buy in,” Assemblyman Aaron Lojewski said.

Lojewski originally wanted to cut the list by more than half but assembly members said they liked the list, and the mayor pointed out that the process is far from the point of committing public funds.

“The assembly still maintains the full authority of which projects we fund,” Ward said.

New roofs, restrooms, playground equipment and buildings are among the 66 projects under public review.

A film about the projects narrated by Ward explains the scope of each one and includes pictures and maps.

The mayor did not commit to or rule out a bond question for the 2020 election when asked if he was planning to bring a bond package to the voters.

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