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BATH Center partnership meeting


by Greg Lincoln

The Bethel Lifesavers, through the work of Beverly Hoffman, have organized a community leadership meeting that met on May 24, 2011 to discuss the formation of a partnership for the Bethel Aquatic Health and Training Center (BATHC) and the design of the facility.

The group met with David Moore of Architects Alaska, who came to Bethel on his own dime to attend the community leaders meeting at Hoffman’s invitation and to address the Bethel City Council during their meeting that same night.

“I emailed a lot of the members that were on the Yuut Elitnaurviat Board – all community leaders. At this meeting the idea of a partnership with the City of Bethel was raised and this is something all of you have wanted to see happen,” said Hoffman while speaking under People to be Heard during the May 24 city council meeting. “I would say that it was very encouraging, it was unanimous agreement that Bethel look at setting up something similar to Yuut (Elitnaurviat) so that the City of Bethel does not stand alone with this project. There was not only a lot of nods but excitement and a willingness to use resources of their own to move this project forward.”

During the partnership meeting, the group looked at the design for the BATH Center and decided that the size of the facility is what Bethel needs and that there was no plan to reduce it in size.

“They felt that all the reviews…shows that with the city sales tax revenue that it’s a good plan,” said Hoffman. “It has been reviewed to death and it all shows that with the city sales tax revenue that it’s a good plan.”

There have been four reviews completed on the BATH Center done by Agnew::Beck, Architects Alaska, Mikunda Cottrell, and the McDowell Report.

Attending the first partnership meeting were representatives from the Orutsararmiut Native Corporation, the Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation, the Bethel Native Corporation, Bethel Community Services Foundation, the City of Bethel, Donlin Creek LLC, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, and the Yupiit Piciryarait Cultural Center.

Other community leaders expressed their support and wanted to attend but were out of town.

Hoffman told the council that the group is committed to pursuing capital funding for construction.

“Several of them said that Senator (Lyman) Hoffman spoke to them that he would work hard to get constructions monies for the project next season. And he also talked about supporting this partnership,” she said.

The group planned on exploring the possibilities of forming a limited liability partnership or a 501c3 non-profit.

Also speaking under People to be Heard was Parks and Recreation Committee chairman Barbara Mosier who expressed her thoughts regarding the community leaders meeting.

“I am just so excited and I wanted to let the community know that. One night you (the council) came back from Juneau I heard you all say we’d like to get a partnership going and it looks like that’s where we are,” she said. “While I was sitting at that meeting I could already envision children of Bethel swimming, becoming swimmers, becoming leaders of the community having a place to come, rather than doing drugs and alcohol on the streets of Bethel and other destructive decisions.”

Under Special Order of Business – David Moore of Architects Alaska gave an update on the BATH Center. He said he thought that initially it would be all about reducing the scope of the project and what should be done to the design of the facility to make it less expensive – but that was not the case.

“We had a very productive day…and what I heard with the group that we met this morning is that they were (not) concerned about cutting it down at all. They felt that the design that we have currently not only is about the right size project, it can be afforded by the community, (and) it also has the features that are necessary to meet the needs of the community,” he said. “And so the direction that I was getting from the community leaders that we had was that they liked the design in its current formation and didn’t seem to be recommending any modifications to it.”

Mayor Eric Middlebrook sounded pleased with the report.

“Sounds good, sounds like you made a good start,” he said.

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