One week, more than $500K, or the Jesse Lee Home goes down

Published: Sep. 24, 2020 at 10:04 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - In an order passed down from the Kenai Court, Superior Court Judge Lance Joanis gave the group trying to save Jesse Lee Home, Friends of the Jesse Lee Home, one week to raise $536,720.73 or the temporary restraining order (TRO) protecting the building from demolition by the city of Seward will be lifted.

The decision comes after the judge heard more testimony from Friends on the progress or lack-thereof in restoring the building. Testimony was also heard from the city on how expensive it is to not knock it down, even though the contract could have been suspended for no cost.

The TRO protecting the building was put into effect by the judge because the city began demolition on Aug. 31 when Friends presented a quitclaim deed to the building they bought in 2014.

That deed came with conditions that Friends had five years to remove hazardous material and connect the building to sewer and water, or it went back to the city.

The city testified that the work was not done and the building is too unstable to get the hazardous materials out safely. Friends testified that they’ve been pursuing parallel goals with restoration, including working on curriculum for the school that they want to start at the restored building once it was completed.

When the TRO was initially filed, Friends had to post about $72,000 in a security bond - like they have to do now. At the time, members said they “shattered” that goal thanks to a number of large donations from various groups in the state.

Superior Court Judge Lance Joanis says the TRO will expire Sept. 30 and “a preliminary injunction shall not issue.”

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