In January, two Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) employees approached Deltana Community Corporation (DCC) seeking assistance to cost match partial funding for their proposed project to build a roadside turnout on the south side of the Alaska Highway at milepost 1405 for placement of an informational kiosk and walking trail extending out to the edge of the bison fields. The purpose of the kiosk/turnout is to inform the public of ADF&G’s bison management activities on the adjacent Panoramic Fields Complex and provide a hiking trail access to a proposed viewpoint overlooking a place the bison frequent in mid-late summer.
This project concept is outside the scope of regular ADF&G annual budgeting.
Alaska Department of Transportation (DOT) offers Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) grants for cost sharing matches to fund smaller road construction projects to address local concerns. In their initial approach to DCC, ADF&G employees were led to believe by DOT that ADF&G could not directly apply for the DOT TAP grant and would require a local partner such as DCC to apply for and be responsible for obligations to DOT for grant monetary requirements.
The project proposal appeared to have some educational and public merit and falls squarely into the defined terms of acceptable use by the Community Assistance Program (CAP) guidelines of funds use. CAP is where DCC and other local community assistance entities obtain funds.
The request directed to DCC was for a contribution of a 9.03% match for the TAP grant, paying 9.03% (approx. $34,000 of support) and the TAP grant would cover approx. $300,000 plus of funding for the turnout and Kiosk. The deadline to submit the TAP application to DOT was February 28th.
The initial proposal from ADF&G didn’t include actual estimates from contractors or inclusion of likely overage costs and long-term maintenance costs all of which DCC would be responsible for under the TAP grant. As some estimates came in from DOT Planning well into the 11th hour of the application deadline, the cost fluctuated from $300,000 to $1.2 million, project plans were in flux as ADF&G employees tried to amend the project to the budget constraints of DCC.
As the deadline date of February 28 approached, the project plans continued to morph and the particulars regarding financial obligations DCC would incur became murkier and additional inquiries with Sarah Lucey at DOT revealed that a roughly $30,000 fund request could in all likelihood balloon to approximately $80k-$129,000 check payable to DOT. If any planning changes or cost overages occurred, the additional expense to DCC could be expected to go up considerably from there. Far greater potential costs than DCC is able to cover.
On February 28 the DCC board convened in Special meeting to consider the proposed plan. With the plan in a rapid state of flux, and the deadline for the TAP grant 6 hours away, the recently uncovered liability of excessive monetary contingencies exceeding the interest and capabilities of DCC, the board rightly felt it not the right time to proceed with supporting this project. As plans solidify and costs become accurately defined only then might DCC consider offering some funding for this project.
Unfortunately, recent articles in the Delta Wind Newspaper discussing this ADF&G project proposal/scoping were premature. No agreements with DCC had been reached. The proposal’s funding obligation and requirements were vaguely defined at the onset and further DCC inquiries to DOT (as a potential partner) revealed major hurdles from TAP grant requirements and precluded the ability of DCC to even consider being be (sic) a partner at this time.
DCC has an open window usually in December/January for receiving funding application requests from the public Applications from a variety of parties are given due consideration and are scrutinized for serving the greatest public need in areas where other funding support is not readily available.
The recent article in the Delta Wind alluded to the Bison Viewing Project proceeding with DCC’s partnering with ADF&G, absent of the consent of Deltana community. This was never the case. However, due to the large effort by ADF&G and the perceived positive response from the public, DCC wanted to ensure that all due diligence was exercised before a decision to support or reject DCC participation in the project could be made.
ADF&G has since withdrawn their grant applications to DCC at this time. The reason given for the withdrawal include, finding a different grant partner other than DOT to join DCC, and await some potential legislative decisions from this current session that may affect the ADF&G plan.
DCC funding, matching and fundraising efforts are required to be for public use and attention is given to a highest and best use for the large Delta/Greely District boundaries. DCC greatly appreciates and would like to thank all those who contribute feedback to the board on social media and by email.