KODIAK, Alaska — U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski helped break ground for a new Coast Guard Base Kodiak housing facility.
Vice Admiral Charles Ray, the commander of the Coast Guard Pacific Area; Captain Jeffrey Westling, the commander of Coast Guard Base Kodiak and Lars Wagner, the housing project manager, joined in shoveling the dirt earlier this month.
Admiral Paul Zukunft, the commandant of the entire Coast Guard, was planning to attend the ground breaking as well, however, he was sick and unable to make it.
"With consistent occupancy of base housing at or near 99 percent, and limited three-bedroom housing units available for rent on the local economy, the construction of these new housing units is crucial for taking care of our families and maintaining frontline operational readiness," Westling said.
There are 406 other family housing units owned by the Coast Guard, and the new housing will add 10 duplexes, 20 three-bedroom homes, to that number.
Tutor Perini Corporation, a general contractor, was awarded the contract for the building. It will cost $19.6 million and is expected to be completed in fall 2016, Westling said.
Not only is housing needed for current families, Westling expects an increase in personnel in the future.
"Currently, we have a deficit in the housing that we do need for existing families, but with the Coast Guard's continued commitment to Alaska and the 17th Coast Guard district, we're expecting to continue to see an increase in Coast Guard presence," Westling said.
It's a large project and it's the only place new housing is being built for the Coast Guard.
"It should demonstrate to you all that are here serving in Kodiak and doing some dangerous work and some hard work and most of you are a long ways from the rest of your family, how important we think Kodiak is," Ray said. "There won't be another new anything that approaches this in the Coast Guard in the next two or three years."
"What we're seeing happen here in Kodiak is not happening anywhere else in the country," Murkowski said. "In no other Coast Guard facilities are we seeing new housing being built. I think it's an indication of the significance of Coast Guard in Alaska and particularly here in Kodiak as being that launch pad for so much of our expanded Coast Guard mission in the Arctic. This is significant for us."
Murkowski said she hopes to return in 2016 to help cut the ribbon on the new units.
Information from: Kodiak (Alaska) Daily Mirror, http://www.kodiakdailymirror.com
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