How did Anchorage projects fare?

June 29, 2011 

In Anchorage, there were winners and losers as Gov. Sean Parnell announced his capital budget vetoes Wednesday.

Officials at both the University of Alaska Anchorage and the Anchorage School District said they were pleased. Mayor Dan Sullivan thought the results were mixed for city government.

Some nonprofits got what they asked for but one major Native health project was dealt a blow.

A total of $407 million in Anchorage projects survived the governor's veto; another $104 million was vetoed.

UAA arena in the bag

The University of Alaska Anchorage scored big, securing $34 million -- the rest of the money needed -- to build a $109 million sports arena near Providence Alaska Medical Center, plus authorization to spend $14 million for major maintenance projects such as roof repairs.

To top it off, the governor approved $2 million that will partially be spent to attract good teams to the Great Alaska Shootout basketball tournament.

"I thought we did very well," said Bill Spindle, UAA's vice chancellor of administration.

Schools get turf and tech

For K-12 schools, Parnell left in all of the small appropriations for individual Anchorage facilities.

"I'm so pleased to see there's lots of funding for security cameras and a lot of technology for the schools, lots of meat-and-potatoes stuff," said Carol Comeau, Anchorage schools superintendent.

West High and Romig Middle School lost a $3 million appropriation for renovation that their PTA had sought, Comeau said.

And the whole school district lost a $6.5 million appropriation for roof replacements. Comeau said she was told it was too far down the state's school projects priority list. "That was disappointing."

But the governor approved major sports facilities for three high schools: $2.1 million in turf for Service, $2.4 million for field improvements at East and $2 million to replace the track at Dimond.

City: port and police

Parnell allowed $30 million for the Port of Anchorage reconstruction, vetoing an additional $7.5 million the Legislature had approved. The city only requested $20 million, said Sullivan. The money will be enough to move the project along, he said.

Other public safety money, like digital video systems for police cars and a new light rescue boat for the Fire Department, was approved.

Sullivan said he was disappointed that the governor vetoed more than $21 million in roads and drainage projects, cut some neighborhood park funding, and reduced by almost $4 million an appropriation for upgrading city public facilities, including the Loussac Library, Sullivan Arena and Dempsey Anderson and Ben Boeke ice arenas. That left $6 million for the facilities.

What else?

A sampling of other decisions on Anchorage projects:

• Nursing home: $20 million for an Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium proposed nursing home in Anchorage was vetoed.

• Waldron Lake: $4 million to buy the Midtown property from Boys and Girls Clubs-Alaska to make a city park was vetoed. Parnell said in a news conference that Anchorage's city government can't even afford to maintain the parks it has.

But Boys and Girls Clubs had offered to maintain Waldron Lake for 20 years.

Backup information provided later by the governor's office gives this rationale instead: "Considering the budget already contained significant funding for many youth recreational facilities, the governor vetoed this project."

• Glen Alps parking: $715,537 to add parking spaces at the popular Chugach State Park trail head, which leads to Flattop, escaped Parnell's veto pen.

Rep. Les Gara, D-Anchorage, one of the appropriation's sponsors, said by next year the state will be able to add 50-60 spaces.

• Blood Bank of Alaska: $6.2 million was approved for expansion.

• Anchorage neighborhood parks renovation: A $1 million appropriation for the Anchorage Park Foundation was vetoed, as was a similar $500,000 appropriation to the city for neighborhood parks. But projects for individual parks such as Kincaid were approved.


Reach Rosemary Shinohara at rshinohara@adn.com or 257-4340.

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