News-Miner opinion: Residents of the Fairbanks North Star Borough have some big things to think about when it comes to capital improvement projects. Those are projects that can include demolishing old things, making basic repairs to old things, making old things better by expanding them or adding improvements, and building new things.
There’s lot of those “things” on a list for consideration by the Borough Assembly at its regular meeting Thursday. Residents will have a chance to testify as the assembly considers what to do with a list of several dozen projects brought forward by Mayor Bryce Ward. The mayor and his team created that list from a much larger list of projects proposed by the public through the close of the proposal period on Oct. 11.
The assembly can modify the list on Thursday, after the public hearing. The final list will then be sent back to the mayor’s administration, which will score the projects.
The projects on the list coming to the assembly include ones large and, by comparison, small. Here’s just a sampling:
• $17 million to replace the animal shelter.
• $300,000 for a Birch Hill ski building generator.
• $2 million to expand the North Pole Library.
• $12.5 million to expand and remodel the Carlson Center.
• $107 million for a new North Star Athletics Complex, including the replacement of Hamme and Mary Siah pools.
• $2 million for safety improvements at the South Cushman Rifle Range.
• $500,000 for signs welcoming people to the borough.
The list goes on. It also includes millions in elementary, middle and high school projects and millions more for work at Chena Lake Recreation Area.
How will these or any projects that end up on the final list be paid for? That’s a discussion for another day. The first thing for the community, assembly and mayor to do is have a prioritized list. We’re close to getting that.
This is a new way of doing things at the borough. It was in August of 2019 that the assembly approved the mayor’s proposed plan for revamping how the borough government chooses which projects to do. The new method has increased public involvement, evidenced by the number of proposals received.
Now, with the Thursday assembly meeting and possible decision on a final list, supporters of projects should make themselves heard. If you can’t show up to speak for your favorite project, send an email to the assembly.
This is a fine opportunity to help shape the Fairbanks North Star Borough.
You can find out more about the Capital Improvement Program, including information about the individual proposed projects, by going to the borough’s website (www.co.fairbanks.ak.us) and clicking on the “CIP” tab in the top-left corner of the page.