AWARE received funding to construct a retaining wall to mitigate future landslide damages, but high construction prices will likely push its cost to more than the awarded grant funding.
“The design we currently have is likely too expensive for us to implement at this time based on all the increased construction costs,” said Mandy Cole, the executive director of AWARE.
On Monday, the City Borough of Juneau Assembly adopted an ordinance that appropriated a $333,402 federal grant fund to be used to build a retaining wall and repave the parking lot at the AWARE site.
The funding is awarded through the federal Community Development Block Grant program provided by the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development. The funds passed through the CBJ to AWARE, who are now able to use the money to take on the responsibility behind the construction and project management.
But, for when the building project will start construction, that remains up in the air still, said Cole. “Prices have increased greatly, and the projects now cost more than I had hoped and that I had budgeted for.”
Cole said since she originally applied for the grant in the summer of 2021, the cost estimate of the grant has “greatly” increased in the intervening year between the grant’s appropriation.
The grant application was originally written in the summer of 2021 after a landslide occurred down the slope that borders the glacial highway and the shelter and caused damage to the driveway and building as well during December 2020. AWARE was able to receive funding from FEMA for the restoration of the damages, but this grant will go towards a retaining wall as a prevention effort to stop any future damages.
Cole said the next step to still find a way to build an adequate retaining wall with the lack of funds is re-scoping the project by likely changing the design to a less expensive version while still being fully functional to mitigate further events, or to pursue additional funding to make up for the rise in construction cost.
“This is the place where folks who are survivors of sexual violence can come at any point, 24/7, so we get people who need safety and basically we need to be open 24 hours a day,” she said. “To make sure this building is maintained and safe, we need to make sure the driveway and the slope are the strongest they can be.”
The grant funding comes through a state program that allows the Assembly to choose which local project will compete statewide to be awarded Community Development Block Grant each year, and among five total proposals, the AWARE application was chosen.