Federal funding for a new National Guard armory in Juneau is one step closer after a congressional conference committee approved $7.5 million for the project on Tuesday.
The appropriation still needs final approval by the U.S. House of Representatives, the Senate and President Bush, but U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska expected that to happen.
"It's practically 100 percent a done deal," said Stevens, a Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee.
However, Congress did not approve money for a proposed vehicle maintenance building, and the Guard still has to clear more hurdles at home before crews break ground on the armory, said Lt. Col. Craig Schreiber, construction and facilities management officer for the National Guard.
The project is a joint effort by the National Guard and University of Alaska Southeast. In November they unveiled a proposal for a joint recreation and drill facility on land between Auke Bay Elementary School and UAS student housing.
The plan calls for a 55,000-square-foot building with a collegiate-size gym and bleachers seating 750 people. The National Guard and university students would have use of the gym, an indoor running track, a two-story climbing wall and exercise, dance and weight rooms, as well as a lounge, kitchen and classrooms.
That portion of the project is estimated to cost $15.4 million, with the university paying $5.4 million and the National Guard kicking in about $10 million, Schreiber said.
The Guard still needs the state Legislature to appropriate $1.6 million in matching funds to collect the $7.5 million in federal dollars, said Schreiber, noting the agency will use existing funds to make up the difference, he said. State lawmakers also must approve $5.4 million for the university's portion of the project.
The Guard also wants to build an 8,000-square-foot vehicle maintenance shop on the site. However, Congress has not approved the necessary $2.6 million for the shop, which is separate from the joint project and not included in the $15 million figure, Schreiber said.
The Guard is seeking only federal dollars for the maintenance building, and it will appeal to Congress again next year, Schreiber said. The Guard could lease space for vehicle maintenance or build a temporary structure in the interim, he said.
The National Guard has to vacate its current location near Centennial Hall downtown because the Alaska Mental Health Trust, which owns the land, is interested in developing it.
Kathy Dye can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.