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Big Lake Lions Club & Recreation Center - Alaska

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2939 S Lions Court
Big Lake, AK 99652
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Big Lake Lions Club & Recreation Center
Big Lake, Alaska

Welcome to Big Lake Rec Center!
"The Best Outdoor Ice Indoors"

About six years ago the Big Lake community gathered to talk about a spree of vandalism that had been plaguing the Big Lake Library and adjoining Jordan Lake Park. Through those discussions the youth in the area complained that they needed something to do and a place to do it.
The Big Lake Lions took on a mission to build a multi-use recreation and community center to engage the youth and give the community a place to call home. After talking to architects and contractors, the envisioned facility was too cost-prohibitive to ask the State of Alaska to build in a timely and cost-effective manner, so the Big Lake Lions decided they could do this as a volunteer organization with the communitys help for far less money and get it done much faster.

Over the next year the Lions solicited and received the land, the plans, and commitments of in-kind servicesincluding site work, excavation, reduced construction bids and labor exceeding $600,000. The Lions also wrote grants to help with the project. A small town of 3,500 made commitments of over $600,000 to invest in their youth and community. The visionaries at the Mat-Su Health Foundation pitched in and added a $300,000 grant to the pot and construction began in the spring of 2010.

It started out as a 26,000 square foot building without heat. In the winter an ice rink would be installed for hockey with donated wood dasher boards, chain link fencing to protect the spectators and a 30-year-old Zamboni to groom the ice. Bleachers were salvaged from West High School in Anchorage and artificial turf was acquired after the Alaska Wild was no longer viable. Sometimes the temperature dipped to less than 20-below inside the rink and the kids used port-a-potties and dressing rooms outside. But it was a place to gather and play and averaged over 1,200 kids a week on the ice. The kids were engaged in an activity, learning teamwork and taking pride in the fact that they helped build this facility through organized work parties with their coaches and hockey organizations.

All along the goal was to add heated locker rooms, bathrooms and a community center; so the Lions constantly worked toward that goal.
In 2011, the State of Alaska invested $150,000 with a grant to bring natural gas to the facility and help prepare the site for the community center (Phase II). In 2012, the State of Alaska granted another $500,000; the Mat-Su Health Foundation recognized that the money they had previously invested was well-spent and committed to invest another $800,000 to help build the rest of the facility. The construction of the first floor of Phase II moved forward. Shortly after, in 2013, the Rasmuson Foundation joined in with $495,000 to help finish the second floor.

So now the little community of Big Lake has built a 38,000 square foot building for its community center that features a full-size ice rink (which doubles as a soccer field, arena, convention floor, and trade show venue), indoor restrooms, concession stand, an elevator, a banquet-meeting room that can seat more than 300 (and the chairs and tables to accommodate them) and a catering kitchen. With energy efficiency and manageable long-range maintenance in mind, this facility was built for the amazingly low sum of $85 a square foot, which allows the Big Lake Lions to make this facility available at very reasonable rates.

Im proud to live in a place where the people are willing to work for something they want and not just say, Do this for us, says Bill Haller who spearheaded the financing and construction of this amazing addition to the Big Lake community. I witnessed countless work parties of parents and kids coming together to caulk concrete, saw cuts in the slab, sweep and clean floors, build dasher boards for the rink, roll out and roll up the turf every year, and clean up the construction dust on weekends. Its about teaching our youth that if they want something, they need to work for it, and in taking pride in what they have accomplished. And they have.


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