Assembly passes a lower-cost tennis court measure

Wednesday, December 25, 2013 - 19:00
Mayor’s veto attempt voted down

It’s finally over.

After too many amendments amending amendments, back-and-forth arguments and miffed retorts, the Anchorage Assembly voted to fund the controversial indoor tennis court/multi-use facility in Anchorage.

The measure grants approximately $4.4 million for the building’s construction.

That’s almost $3 million less than the amount requested by tennis advocates.

Members of the Assembly grappled for almost two hours over the measure, an amended version of Chugiak-Eagle River Assemblyman Bill Starr’s original measure, which had almost died before being reintroduced by Chugiak-Eagle River Assemblywoman Amy Demboski.

The big question was what to do with the $10,500,000 allocated to the public works department for deferred and critical maintenance.

Assembly members haggled for moths over semantics, namely, the definition of “critical maintenance” and what it meant in terms of divvying up allocated funds. By the Dec. 17 meeting, most appeared worn down by the issue.

“I’m in support of anything that puts this matter to bed,” Assemblyman Chris Birch said.

Starr chastened him.

“Sorry you wore yourself out, Mr. Birch,” he said. “We’ve had two votes and now we’re reconsidering one. It still doesn’t make it for me.”

The problem, it seemed, was money. No matter how they figured, they couldn’t stretch the $10,500,000 to cover both the critical repairs needed at local ice rinks and the proposed tennis court facility funding.

Money to repair the McDonald Center was granted in a separate allocation. The $4 million was secure yet little had been done to kick start the necessary maintenance.

According to Reid McDonald, manager of the McDonald Center, the rink has a Freon leak. The leak is inside confined space and currently not considered toxic.

Assemblywoman Elvi Gray-Johnson commented that an indoor tennis facility wasn’t justified to be constructed with the funding.

“It’s really difficult to fund a tennis court when the front of this building (the Loussac Library) is being held up by 2-by-4s,” she said.

Throughout this volley of exchange, Demboski remained firm in her opinion that the matter be put to the voters.

“We have to be fiscally responsible,” she said.

The Assembly ruled to keep the bond idea open for possibly perusal at a later date.

Demboski later challenged Mayor Dan Sullivan on his veto attempt.

“I believe the mayor is out of order,” she said. “I believe the mayoral veto is unlawful.”

The Assembly voted 11-1 to override the mayor’s veto.

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