A Request for Proposals is out to find a suitable property to establish a temporary workforce camp for the port expansion.

City to bear costs of port expansion man camp land lease

Nome Common Council members learned in last Monday’s regular council meeting that the city is going to bear the cost of leasing property for a temporary workforce camp to house workers during construction of the planned Port of Nome expansion. In a letter to Mayor John Handeland, the Army Corps of Engineers, Alaska District Commanding Colonel Jeffrey S. Palazzini wrote “there are no provisions within the BIL [Bipartisan Infrastructure Law] funding to provide credit for this real estate requirement and USACE anticipates it can be provided from current City of Nome real property interests.”
“All real estate must be provided prior to advertising the project for construction,” Palazzini wrote.
Mayor Handeland read the paragraph to the council and said that the city is 100 percent responsible for any costs leasing the property. Handeland explained that city leadership had been under the impression that the city would receive credit toward their cost-share of the project. He said this apparently changed when under the Water Resources Development Act the city’s cost share obligation decreased from 35 percent to 10 percent of the cost share (with the Army Corps being responsible for now 90 percent of the federal portion of the expansion cost), the provision of credit for the man camp property went away.
Prior to this revelation, city officials had told the council that the city is obligated to provide property, whether city-owned or leased from other entities or private holdings, but that the city would receive a credit towards its cost-share.
No hard numbers were discussed at the meeting, but Handeland said that the property lease costs are 100 percent on the City of Nome side of the ledger. The city is currently soliciting requests for proposals from Nome landowners for the option to lease land to the city for the purpose to develop the land as a temporary workforce camp for 80 to 100 workers.
The objective is to lease a minimum of four acres of land, in a three-mile radius from the port, for four years. The land would be made available by the city to the contractor awarded the construction contract. The contractor then is responsible to bring in ATCO-style housing units, to extend utilities to the camp site and to connect the units to the city’s utilities. The site must be already level and filled. Costs are a lump sum paid as an option and an annual rent on a square foot basis.
 The deadline to submit proposals is August 24, 3 p.m.
Without securing land for the camp the Corps won’t put out invitations to bid on the expansion project.

In other business, the council passed an ordinance in first reading to authorize the sale of city owned property along Seppala Drive to the Alaska Dept. of Transportation for $32,000 as the DOT plans to reconstruct the road.
The council also passed a resolution to authorize the sale of seven unserviceable rifles from the Nome Police Department’s armory to a local licensed firearms dealer. City Manager Glenn Steckman said these weapons are about 20-years-old and are no longer used by NPD.
Steckman reported that the city hosted a group from Penn State university, Extreme Habitats and the Denali Commission as well as military-related agencies looking at the 3-D housing construction. The city has identified a property on the west end of Nome, the old Larsen property, as the site of the first 3-D house construction, slated to begin next summer.
The military is interested in using this project as a training program.

No place to hold youth
Steckman also reminded the council that it’s time to think about legislative priorities and he suggested to put a new Nome Youth Facility on top of the wish list.
Aside the fact that the old youth facility has been sold, after Governor Mike Dunleavy slashed NYF’s budget in 2019 and forced it to close, Steckman said there is a need for a proper holding facility for youth.
Recent crime committed by minors — break ins and violent attacks and robberies — highlighted the need for a youth facility.
By law, youth are not allowed to be held in an adult jail facility like AMCC and oftentimes weather prevents flights to transport young offenders from the region to Anchorage.
The Division of Probation lacks the personnel to hold youth, Steckman said, thereby putting a state problem on the city to solve.
“NPD is arresting young people and we have no place to put them. We have no proper facilities and the police station has no holding cells.” He said a police officer had to make a decision recently to ‘house’ a youth for 24 hours in an office. “We could not get help from the probation office. They didn’t have people available and we ended up having a police officer babysitting this young person who had been involved in a violent crime,” Steckman said. “These are not, you know, this is not like a curfew violation or anything else. These young people have done something very wrong and we have no place to hold them. AST is having the same problem.”
Juvenile offenders from surrounding villages are also brought to Nome en route to McLaughlin Youth Center in Anchorage. However, Steckman pointed out, delays in flights caused this winter a conundrum. “This past winter, we had a number of flights delayed for two, three, four days at a time. And a young person was being placed in an office as a holding cell. There are requirements that are out there on how what a holding cell is supposed to be designed and I can tell you, an office doesn’t meet their standards.”
He said the situation has become untenable and that the city and other partners needs to figure out a way, whether it’s a full scale youth facility or some type of smaller facility. Council member Henderson said, it sounds like a state responsibility. Steckman agreed, and added that it becomes a city problem and liability when youth are being held at city facilities for the lack of state locations.
The meeting ended with an executive session on matters of personnel and legal matters.


The Nome Nugget

PO Box 610
Nome, Alaska 99762

Phone: (907) 443-5235
Fax: (907) 443-5112


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