Mike Stephens and Chelsea Nilsen test out the new equiptment in the Rec. Center

Changes for the better in the Rec. Center

Story and Photos by Luci Straub

Over the summer there have been several improvements in the Rec. Center and many more are on the way.
Chelsea Nilsen, director of the Rec. Center, toured around the building, listing the various changes in each room. For the kids, more basketballs, new hockey equipment, and a play palace have been installed, and bouncing balls will also be used in the daily yoga classes. All of these have been donated by various sources, such as the Skagway Hardware , the Skagway City School, and The Mountain Shop.
For the big people the main changes are in the brand new weight room. Stairmasters and an elliptical trainer ‘Natural Runner’ are a part of the five brand-new pieces of equipment added to the weight room. With these, Nilsen is planning to add on several other pieces of equipment like bench presses, arm curlers, and a squat machine called “Smith Machine.” Two more exercise bicycles and three new stairsteppers were graciously donated by Princess Cruise Lines’ Legend of the Seas cruise ship.
“I want to make it a worthy weight room.” Nilsen says.
The weight room is not the only change. A brand new room has been added that will be used for dance, aerobics, gymnastics, and yoga. What is so special about this room is the Boflex floor. The wooden floor is foam-cushioned and designed to help absorb shock. It’s also the same floor used for the Miss Fitness Pageants, so Nilsen knows it’s top quality.
In the main gym, wall mats are being put up, Nilsen added. There are also new volleyball nets and Nilsen is hopeful for starting up a volleyball league during the winter months. Even a rock wall will soon be positioned in the northeast corner of the Rec. hall. There is already $50,000 dollars in to build it, so that’s definitely a go.
In the shower rooms, Nilsen plans to install lockers for both men and women.
During the winter Nilsen is trying to set up a fee structure for activities and to incorporate family passes and specialty passes.
“Everything is up in the air. We’re still in the idea phase of that process,” she said.
When asked about the state of the playground and the possibility of a pool, she simply shrugged and said, “The playground is up to Public Works.” The playground equipment is in place but installation is not complete. And the pool project is even further behind in the developing stages (see sidebar).
“Right now we are concentrating mainly on the Rec. building and getting it up to shape, more than the pool and the playground,” Nilsen said. “When the building is pretty much settled, then is the time to really work on other projects.”
On Monday night, the Rec. Board passed a new fee structure for the Rec. Center. The fees have to be approved by the City Council before they go into effect.
A one-month fee for individuals would be $35, three months $90, six months $150, and one year $240. For families one month would be $70, three months $180, six months $300, and for one year $480. Senior fees would be half the price of individuals.

What’s up with the Skagway pool?

The idea of a Skagway pool has been in the developing stages for about a year, but a plan is not ready to go back to the voters.
A year ago, 12-year-old Olivia Klupar approached the City Council with an appeal for a pool, after tiring of traveling back and forth to Haines for her swimming lessons. She gained support from the town and the issue was put on last October’s ballot to research building a pool. The voters endorsed the idea, but beyond that, not much has been accomplished.
City Councilmember Mike Korsmo heads up research for the pool, and he explained the latest developments. Basically, it’s still in the research phase, because the Recreation Board is pushing to get the existing building on its feet. It’s still in the short-term phase of development.
“There are two phases for building the Rec. Center. The short-term phase and the long-term phase. The short-term is what we’re working on, that’s the changes in the infrastructure within the building.” Korsmo says. “The second is the long-term phase like the pool and the playground. Those are still being researched.”
Former resident Dave Moore, an Anchorage architect, has added a lot of knowledge to this project, Korsmo says. There’s a model in City Hall called the Mars proposal, which proposes to build the pool within the building. Korsmo said they are trying to move away from that because Moore said there may be some problems with that model. The Mars proposal will be used as a guideline as they continue research.
Researching has not been easy, said Korsmo, because you have to research not only how much it will cost to build the pool, but how much it will be to maintain it when it is in use, and if it will be used. He’s looking at different ways to cover the costs and is checking with other towns around Southeast to see how they maintain their pools.
So, all in all, the pool idea is still in the baby stage, but it’s moving ahead slowly. – LUCIE STRAUB