by the Denali Commission
The Newtok Village Council (NVC) has signed a resolution selecting the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) as overall manager of the project to relocate the village of Newtok to new safer ground at Mertarvik.
With new federal and state funding for the project, the Denali Commission, ANTHC and NVC are moving quickly into the next phase of the project.
ANTHC was selected as the project manager because it is a Tribal organization with statewide reach and is experienced in rural construction to improve the health of Alaska Native people. ANTHC is familiar with NVC and the Mertarvik project through a previous effort to develop the final Mertarvik Community Layout Plan.
In its new expanded role, ANTHC will use the Commission and State funds to issue contracts for design and construction activities and serve as the coordinator of Newtok’s Relocation Steering Committee. According to NVC President Paul Charles, ANTHC will continue to work closely with the council to coordinate relocation efforts.
Due to the efforts of Alaska’s Congressional Delegation, the Denali Commission received an additional $15 million in the FY2018 Omnibus Appropriations Bill for the development of the new townsite at Mertarvik. The Commission is combining these funds with $5 million of other prior year funds and $3.5 million of match funding from the state.
March 23, 2018: FY2018 Omnibus Appropriations Act signed into law
April 2, 2018: NVC passes resolution requesting that ANTHC assume the lead project-management role
April 19, 2018: Denali Commission issues initial $19 million award to ANTHC
May 23, 2018: NVC and ANTHC execute cooperative project agreement
June 1, 2018: ANTHC issues RFP for construction contractor
“Developing a safe, sustainable, and healthy community in partnership with the people of Newtok is one of ANTHC’s top priorities,” said Andy Teuber, ANTHC Chairman and President. “We look forward to working closely with community members, the Newtok Village Council, the Denali Commission, the State of Alaska and other key stakeholders in the delivery of these critically needed improvements.”
The $23.5 million of new project funding will be used to build a minimum of 13 new homes in Mertarvik, bringing the total housing stock at the new village site to 21, and to construct basic community infrastructure such as bulk fuel storage, a power plant and electrical distribution system, basic sanitation services, a solid waste landfill and community roads.
A portion of the funds will also be used to develop a local quarry site to produce the gravel needed for building pads and roads. The near-term goal is to maximize the number of homes that can be occupied year-round by an initial contingent of Newtok residents by October 2019.
“I am pleased not only with the additional federal funds recently made available for this important project, but also that the State of Alaska is making match funds of $3.5 million available,” said Denali Commission Alaska Co-Chair, Lt. Governor Byron Mallott. “The partnership with ANTHC is important because of their historical background and the successful work that they have demonstrated in rural Alaska projects. This is a great example of how partners can work together to assist Alaska residents that face unique challenges.”
Other agencies that are also currently involved in the relocation project include the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Federal Emergency Management Agency in cooperation with the State Department of Military and Veteran’s Affairs, and State of Alaska Department of Community and Regional Affairs.
The current combined funding from these agencies is approximately $8 million. The Department of Defense has also recently committed to an Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) exercise in Mertarvik in 2019 that will provide free labor for infrastructure construction projects.
In their role as the overall Relocation Project Manager, ANTHC will coordinate all of these efforts in addition to the design and construction contracts they issue directly using Commission and State funds.