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Port Expansion, New Public Health Building Top Sullivan's Wish List

By Abby Hancock, Reporter (Social Issues, Youth Issues, and 2 Your Health), ahancock@ktuu.com
Published On: Dec 04 2013 06:40:00 PM AKST
ANCHORAGE -

Mayor Dan Sullivan released his list of requests to the state legislature for the 2014 session on Wednesday.

The top priority in his the capital budget is a requests for $250 million to fund expansions of the Port of Anchorage.

He called it a "placeholder" and said he intends to meet with Gov. Sean Parnell and leaders in the Alaska Legislature to put together a strategy for funding the port, moving forward.

The second most expensive request is $25 million for a new headquarters for the municipality's Department of Health and Human Services.

The current building located at 9th Avenue And L Street has served as the public health building since the 1970s, according to director  Janet Vietmeier.

It still boasts some of its original features.

"Having so many things break down through the years, pipes leaking, we've almost developed a 'cry wolf' mentality as far as reacting to events in the building because we're so used to seeing maintenance folks," Vietmeier said.

Mayor Sullivan is proposing a brand new building and said at a press conference there are three possible locations in town.

"If you've ever been at the building at 9th and L Street, it is long past its useful life," he said. "We're continuing to band-aid repairs there."

According to Vietmeier, DHHS needs more space and a facility that would better suit the needs of their clients. The current layout is mostly unchanged from its days as a hospital. Offices were former hospital rooms. They still have adjoining bathrooms. Staff say it's traits like this that give the building character.

"It would be a big change for the employees here because we have a lot of long-term employees that are more attached to this building than I think they even realize," said Vietmeier.

Sullivan said he would like the downtown property the building sits on to be opened up to the public sector.