Humanitarian crisis: Anchorage warehouses homeless navigation center materials; Assembly refuses to build it or pay contractor for materials

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At the end of the Indiana Jones “Raiders of the Lost Ark” movie, the Ark of the Covenant is wheeled into a giant U.S. government warehouse, never to be found again.

And so it is with the materials for the Anchorage Navigation Center for the homeless.

A Parks and Recreation maintenance garage in Eagle River has been repurposed as a warehouse for sheltering a vast accumulation of building materials intended for human shelters.

The venue, paid for exclusively by Eagle River taxpayers and originally designed to accommodate trucks and equipment, now houses stacks of construction materials and fixtures, leaving the trucks out in the open.

The procurement of these materials dates back to the previous year, following the Assembly’s approval to construct a navigation center at a site near Elmore Road on Tudor Road.

However, the situation took an unexpected turn when the Anchorage Assembly, despite initially approving the building of the navigation center, refused to fund the construction of the shelter. Critics argue this move was largely to avoid granting a perceived victory to Mayor Dave Bronson in addressing the city’s homelessness issue.

This stalemate has resulted in a bizarre situation where the city, for several months, has been storing construction materials while the homeless, particularly those who find it difficult to abide by the guidelines of traditional church- or privately run shelters, sought refuge at the Sullivan Arena throughout the winter.

Assemblyman Kevin Cross, representing Eagle River, expressed his dismay over the situation.

“It sickens me that we’re willing to secure, heat, and shelter the materials to build a shelter, but not actually use those materials in order to help people. It’s also important to note that these are materials that we took possession of from Roger Hickel and are being sued in order for us to pay for them,” he said.

The navigation center was a flagship project during Mayor Bronson’s early tenure, a part of his strategy to tackle homelessness, which was becoming an environmental concern in Anchorage’s wooded areas.

Last summer, following a significant forest fire in Anchorage that had been set by homeless campers, the mayor’s decided to move all unsanctioned campers to the Centennial Park Campground.

Despite the city ensuring regular patrols, sanitation, and daily meal services, the Assembly and Anchorage Daily News called it a “humanitarian crisis.”

This year, however, there is a shift in the leftist Assembly’s perspective, and it’s getting no pushback from the media for flipping.

The Assembly is contemplating its own version of the sanctioned camp plan that includes homeless campgrounds in every single district in the city.

Despite previously criticizing the Centennial Campground as a humanitarian crisis along the lines of Nazi concentration camps, that very campground is being included on the list to address the increasing presence of homeless tent camps across Anchorage’s greenbelts.

Here’s the kicker: Eagle River, District 2 property taxpayers paid for that maintenance garage for Parks and Recreation, which is a separate Eagle River Parks and Rec.

This means taxpayers of Eagle River are storing the materials for a building that was supposed to be built in Anchorage.

What’s more, the Tudor navigation center site was a place where the city could have also put a sanctioned campground in the cleared area around the social service hub, which was meant to steer each homeless person to the appropriate services to help them get back on their feet.

The municipality owns the land, has permits, and has $10 million left over from 2022 general fund that could be utilized to get the steel-sprung building up.

The municipality took possession of all the building materials from Roger Hickel Contracting and has them under lock and key in Eagle River.

The Assembly refuses to pay for the materials that Hickel purchased as part of the contract to build the navigation center. The city has possession of the materials but during the Tuesday Assembly meeting, the leftist majority refused to pay Hickel the more than $2 million owed to the company for these materials, for the site work, and for the permitting and design work for the navigation center.

44 COMMENTS

  1. Maybe all MOA contractors, materials suppliers etc al should refuse to bid any and all MOA projects until this is resolved and Roger Hickel Contractors are paid in full plus all attorneys fees, court costs AND Interest.

    • Yes! This is terrible that a contractor is not getting paid! All contractors can make a stand that this is unacceptable! I’m sure that if the Mayor quit paying someone the assembly would chop his head off!

  2. Maybe Zaletel’s Coalition could buy those materials from the MOA. Then, the MOA could pay Hickel while Meg and her friends execute their superior plan.

  3. Thanks for letting the citizens know the location of these goods they paid for, good Samaritans can take it from here.

      • Because the mayor tried to pull a fast one on the citizens of Anchorage by refusing to follow processes established to run the city, and adjusted contracts verbage saying Hickel would be paid, by the administration who had not acted lawfully in the first place..

        • Immaterial! (and not true)
          The assembly agreed to the plan and the funds $6 million if the ADN is to be believed. The contractor produced goods per the plan and they owe Mr. Hickel the money. They should pay up and then deal with the paperwork/ mayor snafu. Instead they are okay with bending the rules to buy buildings with Covid money, but when an Anchorage contractor fullfils his obligation they throw a fit. Who in their right mind would do any work for the city anymore at all. If I were a contractor, I would insist that the funds be deposited into an escrow account to be paid upon completion, so the assembly can not claw it back.

        • And still the agreed to navigation center is not built. Perhaps we could house the homeless in the Eagle River garage, and put Hickel Construction’s building materials in parks and on street corners. I think it’s be an improvement.

          Seriously though, Maureen, why not build the shelter at Tudor and Elmore as agreed? I’m missing your point.

        • You obviously do not attend regular assembly meetings. They have spent over 140 million the pat 3 years on homelessness and stopped mayor from doing anything. They don’t care about homeless, just care about their agenda which is to hate this mayor and stop anything he wants to do!

  4. Find it hard to sympathize with the residents of Anchorage that keep electing these clowns.

  5. Homelessness is a problem that the leftist elite doesn’t really want to fix. If homelessness goes away so does the cash cow that is feeding it. Too many on the Left are getting rich pretending to work on fixing the problem.

    • I agree, the assembly fight Mayor Sullivan over he’s years in office, and now they are continuing with this Mayor.

  6. What a sad bunch of children.

    Especially since their tantrums are keeping supplies from their beloved homeless.

    Leftists: compassionate, only if you do it my way.

  7. Left out of this article is that only $50,000 was approved by the assembly for work on the navigation center.

    They may have sequestered additional funds to pay for the navigation center, but they did not approve of amending the contract with Hickel Construction for work exceeding $50,000.

    The Mayor, or someone in his administration, altered the contract and green-lit the continued work without assembly approval. But the buck stops with the Mayor, so it is his problem to deal with.

    Whether you agree with the current members of the assembly or not, the assembly holds the purse strings and the Mayor or his administration needs assembly approval to spend funds. Checks and balances folks.

  8. It sickens me that Kevin Cross hasn’t read the documents that show Bronson changed the text of the original contract.

    Critics believe this article was planted to support the mayor’s continued malfeasance in his role.

    • You mean: holdovers from previous administrations still working in City Hall might actually be working AGAINST Bronson? . . .

      • No, not at all.

        Plenty of evidence Bronson IS working against the whole of Anchorage.

  9. It is an abomination that the Anchorage Assembly that was selected via mail in ballots/ballot harvesting continues to pull these stunts. The whole bunch of leftist should resign and a forensic audit should be performed on all contracts, especially COVID grant money. If there is nothing to hide then the auditors should be allowed to examine every contract and every payment. Start with Bean’s Cafe. Too many irregularities since Berkowitz resigned. Meg should be investigated on whether or not there is a conflict of interest, ethics violation for her board membership. I am sure she has recused herself to ensure no self dealing. Time to look under the circus tent and see what the clowns have really been up to!!!!

  10. By the time they figure out their back and forth! Blah blah! Stuff! Materials! Will be, “not to code”, unusable! Whatever! Figure it out! More tax paying monies too spend! ?

    One navigational station! For all too go and find help?

    And start teaching commen sense!?

    Help thy neighbor! With a navigational center!

  11. Hmm, wasn’t there more than 4 million appropriated and then withdrawn after Mayor Bronson moved forward with the project? The assembly members who condemned using the Centennial Campground when the mayor did it but consider it fine if they do it is a stunning display of their superiority. I bet the ae mad that he thought of it first.

    • No. Bronson got $50,000 approved by the Assembly. Bronson reworked the standard city contract to Hickel saying Hickel would get millions more, having NOT gottenapproval for more.

      Bronson’s wish to support donors’ extreme bias regarding Native homeless, by putting the shelter across the street from the Native Medical Campus. And got work on the ground going.

  12. Might there be a fat and unnecessarily irritable homosexual leading the disarray here?

  13. What a pathetic batch of misfits leading our city down this horrible homeless path soon to look just like Portland which has become the armpit of the Pacific Northwest. Felix Meg Constant The wallstreet Rapper damn sure dont belong here.

  14. Oh, the eruptive, imp pend ing chaos of it all; the build up of tension/ turbulence leads to the need to: get away to Europe to bond avec “family” in “private”. Please respect “privacy”. See ya…when I get around to it and feel more like working. Entertain yourselves.

  15. They can ask to have their “privacy” “respected”. The answer may be “No”. What is the will of the city. WE aren’t waiting on non-functional absentees. We demand the perfectly capable of world travailliers to be renounced and removed on a lay it on the table agenda item next week. Review them in absentia and appoint anyone who wants to volunteer in their absence. Truly sick of this crap. Thanks.

  16. The only important item that was left out of the article was that the entire plan IS the most cost effective way to provide results for the massive growing homeless issue that was constucted under the mayors leadership with the help of professionals dedicated to solving the crisis and not perpetuating it as the ASSembly wants. The ASSembly and the former mayor including the appointed mayor all worked too hard to create this massive money making scam for them and their cronies all at taxpayers expense. There is no way in hell they are going to let the Mayor move this project any further which has all the possibilities to get the help these people so desperately need. Felix would rather spread them out across town so they can continue to panhandle steal swindle their way to buy the drugs and alcohol they use to live the way they want to live in public on public owned land leaving trash and feces everywhere. The parks our children used to play in are no longer fit for even adults with the risk of dirty needles or assaults from the inebriated tenants. It is disgraceful and pitiful the voters cant see where this mess is headed!

    • We sure throw a lot of money at heart disease. And still it’s not cured. Those grifting heart doctors just keep treating the heart patients. Never really curing heartdisease.

      And cancer, too. All those people living off cancer research dollars…

      Do y’all listen to yourselves?

      • What do both of the issues you point to have in common in their failure? (Government). Heart disease, cancer, polio, are natural afflictions. Homelessness is the result of choices (Yes, I know there are mental issues with some) If the homeless decided they didn’t want to be homeless, a large majority of this problem would be solved. Meg, might be out of a job, and unknown numbers of non-profits would have to move on, but the problem would mostly be solved.

      • What do both of the issues you point to have in their common failure? (Government). Heart disease, cancer, polio, are natural afflictions. Homelessness is the result of choices (Yes, I know there are mental issues with some) If the homeless decided they didn’t want to be homeless, a large majority of this problem would be solved. Meg, might be out of a job, and an unknown numbers of non-profits would have to move on, but the problem would mostly be solved. Not so, obviously, with the diseases you mention.

  17. What is of interest, is that Eagle River Parks has closed off 20 acres of our Loretta French Park from the public and is instead using this gated area, the former Loretta French Horse park, to stockpile equipment. Park employees told me that I would be arrested if I were to walk back there, and Karen Richards told me the same after refusing to sell me a permit without me owning a horse. An audit of the inventory of this organization is overdue. They have so much stock that they don’t have enough places to hide it. That they are in collusion with the assembly is not a surprise. I only hope that our local representatives on the assembly will look into this. I brought the matter up at the CC meeting and got crickets. Our assembly representative does not communicate with the public.

    • Trig, seems like by using same legal logic as the lawyer suing over the SOA Kincaid Park moose hunt, you could get a permit. She states the Alaska constitution prohibits singling out one group for benefit of rules or law. Particularly in use of public lands and funds. This is public land, so it should be open to anyone, not just horse owners.

  18. Have you ever tried keeping an eye on the ball Maureen? If you keep chasing your tail you will end up catching something….

  19. Wouldn’t it be fantastic of the Assembly stopped having this … measuring contest with the Mayor’s office?
    Just imagine if the homeless was, oh… I do not know… helped?

  20. I heard it said at one of the nav center disclosure meetings and it still rings true today. Anchorage has become the Alaska’s dumping ground for villages and cities. Anchorage is the Homelessness Statue of Liberty, it’s shining beacon of freebies and giveaways. This is a statewide issue that has been dropped on the MOA. We have state senators and representatives that ran on a ticket promising to address this major issue for the MOA. The State of Alaska has turned a blind eye to these issues. We get plenty of noise but zero forward progress. Not that I expect much from two agencies who have fumbled many core tasks over last 3 years.

    Let’s list several major contributing factors to the homelessness issue in Anchorage, all of these issues are swept under the rug:
    1. State DOC releases prisoners from local facilities and statewide to our streets and lacks the DOC staff to police these fresh releases. Many times, these convicts cannot return to their home of record. For such reasons as victim distance requirements, conditions of release, fear of retaliation and lack of services. Being freshly released is not a great endorsement on a rental application.
    2. Medical transfers arrive here for our premium medical facilities. They get a free ride to town for this medical care. After care is delivered, if they miss the scheduled return transport to wherever they arrived from for care. They are stuck here….on the streets very often.
    3. Workers who arrive in Anchorage and for whatever reason have struggles and then get stuck in the homeless system. We heard many ADN stories from the years of Sullivan sheltering about these type of folks. There is zero plan to address this issue. When the mayor wanted to help them get home he was attacked by the homelessness providers. They sure don’t want to “end homelessness” now do they?
    4. We heard about many people, who due to the high costs of rental housing CHOOSE the sheltering system, particularly when they were giving away free hotel rooms. These free services allowed them to retain most of their seasonal earnings. Remember the ADN story about the commercial fishing person at the Sullivan, now you have the rest of the story.

    These specific items each need a specific segmented response plan from the homeless industrial complex.

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