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Senate measure supports new armory for Juneau

Posted: Tuesday, May 01, 2001

The Senate has approved a resolution in support of a new National Guard armory in Juneau.

The resolution, sponsored by Democratic Sen. Kim Elton of Juneau, asks the National Guard Bureau in Washington, D.C., to move the project up from 70th on its capital projects list, and asks Congress to provide the necessary funding.

The state already has appropriated $1.7 million for design of the 40,000-square-foot armory, and would provide another $1.4 million to match federal funds of $5.3 million for construction, Elton said.

The National Guard needs to vacate its current location in the subport area of downtown because the Alaska Mental Health Trust, which owns the land, is interested in developing it. The city secured 10 acres for the armory at 7 Mile Glacier Highway in a land swap with the trust.

But recently there has been movement toward a joint project with the University of Alaska Southeast, which is planning a 20,000-square-foot gym. The tentative proposal is a joint-use building located between Auke Bay Elementary School and UAS student housing.

Sen. Gene Therriault, a North Pole Republican, emphasized during floor debate Saturday that he's not committing in advance to the joint project. The resolution notes the possibility but doesn't endorse it explicitly.

The Senate voted 19-1 in favor of the resolution, with Anchorage Republican Dave Donley dissenting.

Elton said Monday he expects the joint project to be found feasible.

"If it makes sense for the military, and if it makes sense for UAS, I think it will make sense for the Legislature," he said.

As a stand-alone facility, the new armory has been estimated to cost up to $9.5 million. Elton said the funding formula used by Congress would increase the federal contribution in that event.

Congressional action could be several months off, Elton said. But with a lobbying trip to Washington recently by Adjutant Gen. Phil Oates, commissioner of the Alaska Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, it appears that the criteria used for ranking the capital projects will be revised and the armory will move back up, Elton said. At one time, it ranked fifth.

Bill McAllister can be reached at billm@juneauempire.com.



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