Monday, September 12, 2005

Jesse Lee Project takes Baby Step

A resolution passed unanimously this evening ensuring support from the Seward City Council in obtaining an educational use for the Jesse Lee Home and instructing the Administration to work in conjunction with the Seward Historic Preservation Commission and the Jesse Lee Home Preservation Committee to that end.

August 23, 2005

Representatives of the City of Seward, businesses and organizations interested in pursuing the preservation of the Jesse Lee Home in Seward met August 23, 2005, 9 a.m., at Chugach Alaska Corporation, 561 East 36th Ave. in Anchorage, Alaska.

Attendance: Margie Brown, CIRI; Sheri Buretta, Chugach Alaska Corp.; Doug Gasek, State Historic Preservation Office, DNR; Hilmer Kiser, Seward Christian Center; Aaron Leggett, CIRI; Dorene Lorenz, Seward City Council; Alexandra J. McClanahan, CIRI; Stephanie Miller, Alaska Children'’s Services; Joel Neimeyer, Rasmuson Foundation; Tracy Pelch, Chugach Alaska Corp.; Arliss Sturgulewski; Tom Swann, Seward Historic Preservation Commission; Kirsten Vesel, City of Seward. Participating via teleconference: Katie Shows, Rep. Paul SeatonÂ's office, Juneau; Commissioner Roger Sampson, Alaska Department of Education and Early Learning.

Sending their regrets were Leonard Hyde, JL Properties; Terry Hyer, ECI/Hyer, Inc.; Diane Kaplan, Rasmuson Foundation; Dr. James Simpson, former Jesse Lee Home resident.

Minutes, Agenda: The meeting was called to order by Sheri Buretta at 9:05 a.m. Informal introductions were made by those attending the meeting. The minutes from the first preservation meeting on May 18 were approved. The agenda was approved with the addition of a discussion item of past efforts to preserve the Jesse Lee Home as well as discussion by Tom Swann on the possibility of obtaining grants to hire a staff person to spearhead the effort.

Communication: An email was read from Dr. James Simpson, encouraging participation by the state and private funding sources, as well as the City of Seward.

Discussion: Sturgulewski said the group'’s efforts are a "“last gasp measure"” to save the structure. If action is not taken, it will be lost, she said, adding that she was attending with expectations that the group will take action.

Brown explained that she hosted the first meeting at the request of Simpson, a concerned CIRI shareholder who grew up in the Jesse Lee Home.

Swann described the home as one of the few historical treasures Alaska has. He noted that after the home closed in 1964, it was owned by a succession of private owners, who gradually sold off most of the property surrounding the site. Eventually, the city acquired the home as a result of a foreclosure, he said. When city officials realized that stabilizing, preserving and finding a use for the structure were more than they could handle alone, state funding of $97,000 was obtained to undertake a detailed engineering and feasibility study. Since the study was completed, virtually no action has been taken, and in the meantime, the Seward Historic Commission has been tasked by the Seward City Council with addressing issues surrounding the home.

Joel Neimeyer said he became involved with the group because Diane Kaplan asked him to ascertain whether there might an immediate “band-aid” approach to stabilizing the structure and preventing further deterioration until action can be taken. Neimeyer said he met with Terry Hyer, who undertook the engineering study, and was informed that even the most basic stabilization would cost $500,000. Further reports now indicate that stabilization could actually cost $2 million, Neimeyer said. In other words, Neimeyer explained, there is no band-aid because of the high cost of stabilization. What will be needed in order to attract such a significant investment, he said, is a decision on what the purpose of the building will be.

Swann agreed that a purpose must be found and agreed upon, and if so, the money will flow.

The group discussed various possible scenarios and generally agreed that the best use of the structure might be a training center or statewide high school with a residential component. Swann said that it is important to have the structure used for a statewide purpose because it is more than the city can handle on its own. He reminded the group that the state flag was designed by Bennie Benson while he lived in the Jesse Lee Home.

Sturgulewski agreed with the tenor of the discussion regarding finding a statewide purpose for the home and said that simply saving the building for the sake of historic preservation is not a compelling issue that would generate enough funding.

It was noted that the state currently has three statewide boarding schools, located in Nenana, Galena and Sitka (Mt. Edgecumbe). Only Mt. Edgecumbe receives funding from the state for its residential costs. Sampson said the State Board of Education has been reluctant to support schools based on the traditional boarding school model, but that support might be forthcoming for more innovative approaches. It was noted that a bill has been introduced in the Legislature by Rep. John Coghill, HB16, which would provide funding for the schools in Galena and Nenana and put them on a par with Mt. Edgecumbe.

There followed detailed discussion about what type of facility might be developed in Seward. It was noted that Seward has unique advantages, such as its small population being more conducive to rural students, its accessibility as a result of being on the road system, the Alaska SeaLife Center, the Alaska Vocation Technical Center and Seward'’s history as the site of the Jesse Lee Home.

It was decided that the best use of the Jesse Lee Home may be as a career opportunity facility, possibly focusing on leadership training for Alaska Native students from throughout the state. Brown suggested pursuing the concept of a focus on the sciences.

Buretta said the project can be broken into three main areas: renovation, start-up and operation/maintenance.

Neimeyer said although the official deadline for Rasmuson grants has passed, possibly the foundation board would consider a request for the Jesse Lee Home. Any request for consideration before the end of the year would need to be completed by October 7, he said. He noted that participation by CIRI, Chugach Alaska and others would be important.

Action items: Discussion focused on the need for immediate funding, as well as research on political action. The following action items were agreed upon:

o Arliss Sturgulewski will contact the Rasmuson Foundation to urge consideration for an immediate grant to begin the process of moving forward on the development of a statewide educational facility at the Jesse Lee Home.

o City officials will pursue a resolution by the City of Seward supporting the proposal.

o City officials will develop materials for a grant application.

o Research will be undertaken on HB 16 to determine whether an amendment should be offered to include a facility in Seward.

o Further research will be undertaken by Stephanie Miller on how to create a fund for donations as soon as possible.

o Federal funding and support will be identified, including support from U.S. Sens. Ted Stevens, John McCain and Hillary Clinton, as well as the Denali Commission.

(Minutes prepared by Alexandra J. McClanahan and Aaron Leggett.)

Next Meeting Date and Location: September 29, 1:30 pm, at CIRI boardroom.

Meeting Adjournment: 11:30 a.m.

Contact Information:
Brown, Malcolm – City of Seward, P.O. Box 167, Seward, AK 99664; 907-224-4065;

Brown, Margie CIRI, Box 93330, Anchorage, AK 99509; 907-274-8638;

Buretta, Sheri Chugach Alaska Corp., 560 East 34th Ave., Anchorage, AK 99503; 907-261-0310;

Gasek, Doug – State Historic preservation Office; 907-269-8726;

Hyde, Leonard JL Properties, Inc., 1007 West 3rd Ave., Anchorage, AK 99501; 907-279-8068;

Hyer, Terry – ECI/Hyer, Inc., 101 West Benson Blvd., Suite 306, Anchorage, AK 99503; 907-561-5543;

Kaplan, Diane – The Rasmuson Foundation, 301 West Northern Lights Blvd., Suite 400, Anchorage, AK 99903; 907-297-2700;

Kiser, Hilmer – Seward Christian Center; 907-244-8600;

Leggett, Aaron – CIRI, Box 93330, Anchorage, AK 99509; 907-263-5136;

Lorenz, Dorene – City of Seward, P.O. Box 167, Seward, Alaska 99664; 907-360-8815;

McClanahan, Alexandra J. – CIRI, Box 93330, Anchorage, AK 99509; 907-263-5197;

Miller, Stephanie – Alaska Children'’s Services, 4600 Abbott Road, Anchorage, AK 99507; 907-348-9206;

Neimeyer, Joel – The Rasmuson Foundation, 301 West Northern Lights Blvd., Suite 400, Anchorage, AK 99903; 907-297-2829;

Pelch, Tracy – Chugach Alaska Corp.; 907-550-4126;

Simpson, James L. – 2491 Southslope Way, West Linn, OR 97068; 503-722-9974;
Simpson, Ronald – P.O. Box 265, Copper Center, AK 99573; 907-822-3003;

Sturgulewski, Arliss – 3201 C Street, #405, Anchorage, AK 99503; 907-561-5286;

Swann, Tom – Seward Historic Preservation Commission, P.O. Box 905, Seward, AK 99664; 907-224-3080;

Vesel, Kirsten – City of Seward, P.O. Box 167, Seward, Alaska 99664; 907-224-4074;

1 comment:

Z said...

Just to let you know that I have moved you to the members list on Creme de la Creme. Sorry for the delay but I have been very busy over he past month. T x