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Committee OKs $21 million for federal fisheries center

Posted: Tuesday, July 24, 2001

The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee this month approved $21 million for the Lena Point fisheries center - the last chunk of money needed to fund construction of the $50 million federal complex. The $21 million appropriation still needs approval by the full Senate and the House, which has approved $5.8 million for the project.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration so far has received $29 million for the complex and has spent about $3 million, according to John Gorman of the National Marine Fisheries Service, a NOAA agency.

Regardless of what Congress decides this year, NOAA will award a $9 million contract for site preparation at Lena Point this summer, Gorman said. Site preparation is scheduled for September.

If Congress awards the full $21 million this year, crews will start construction in 2002 and the facility will be ready for occupancy in 2004, Gorman said. If Congress awards less than $21 million this year, NOAA will push back construction to 2003 and occupancy to 2005, he said. Gorman said he should know within the next several months whether NOAA will delay construction one year.

The 58,000-square-foot facility will span 23 acres and house up to 107 employees. It will include offices, a research lab, a commons area, library, meeting rooms and outdoor space for storage and saltwater tanks.

The Juneau Center of the University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences also wants to relocate to the Lena Point site. However, it has received only $1.7 million of $22 million needed by the school to make the move.

Kathy Dye can be reached at kdye@juneauempire.com.



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