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From Ports To The Powerhouse, 18 Projects Seek Unalaska's Capital Funding In FY19

Laura Kraegel

Generator upgrades. Library renovations. Even a new fire training facility.

These are just a few of the 18 projects that could receive city funding in the next fiscal year.

This week, the Planning Department presented the Unalaska City Council with an early draft of the 2019 Capital and Major Maintenance Plan, which totals almost $9.8 million.  

The big-ticket projects would extend uplands at the Unalaska Marine Center for $5.4 million and rebuild four generators at the powerhouse for $1.3 million.

Vice Mayor Dennis Robinson said caring for the generators is critical, but he’s insistent about finding sustainable funding. In all, maintenance costs are expected to add up to $6.6 million by fiscal year 2023.

"We need to seriously look at some power use agreements," said Robinson. "Because if the fish stop swimming in the Bering Sea, we’ll be back in 1983, calling various businesses to prepay their sales tax so we can make payroll."

The city’s budget process is just beginning, so it’ll likely be months before officials release revenue projections or councilors make any final funding decisions.

Still, the council expressed support for two projects the would benefit the Department of Public Safety.

One would build a training facility in Unalaska where firefighters could practice responding to live fires, instead of having to train off-island. The other would hire a consultant to assess Public Safety’s building.

Interim City Manager Nancy Peterson said the department has outgrown its 30-year-old structure. She said an assessment would tell the city whether it’s best to renovate or build new.

"We want to do a functional analysis," said Peterson. "What are the needs of each of the divisions within Public Safety? And what would it take to have a physical environment that supports the functions of the department?"

The cost of that analysis is estimated at $100,000. Meanwhile, the fire training facility would come with a $627,000 price tag, though the department is only requesting $12,000 for site selection and design in 2019.

The Unalaska Public Library is also requesting $357,000 for its renovation. If approved, that money will serve as a down payment on a $4.6 million expansion, slated for construction as early as 2020.

The City Council is scheduled to dive deeper into the capital projects budget in April.

Laura Kraegel reported for KUCB from 2016 until 2020. She was KUCB's news director starting in 2019. We are proud to have her back in the spring of 2023 filling in as an interim reporter for KUCB.
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