On Saturday afternoon members of the City and Borough Assembly met with David E. Johnson’s Architect Julie Covington. David E. Johnson Architects is a firm out of Nashville Tennessee and are in charge of designing the new Wrangell Medical Center replacement hospital facility. Mayor Jeremy Maxand says the meeting was a chance for Borough Assembly members to talk with Covington about the project and discuss any question or concerns they may have.

“The hospital is managed and operated by an elected board, the facility and the land is owned by the City and Borough of Wrangell. Which means if a new hospital is going to be constructed it’s going to be constructed through the City and Borough of Wrangell not the hospital board. That doesn’t mean that those two entities don’t work together, as we have been to come up with the final product, but we need to have a high level of confidence that where things are today were good decisions so we can keep moving forward. Part of sitting down with the architect and asking questions was to get to that point,” he says.

Topics discussed at the meeting ranged from a modular vs. conventional building design, roof structure, project bidding, local economic development, and the overall time line of construction.

“Here it’s all logistics about how you build a 50,000 sq ft hospital on a remote island in Alaska.” That’s Architect Julie Covington; she says building in rural areas of Alaska has it challenges, such as shipping of materials and equipment while staying on budget and on schedule. Earlier in the summer the hospital board opted for modular construction as the most efficient and cost effective method. Since then David E. Johnson Architects has designed a modular construction model for the new facility. With design work nearly complete Covington says she plans to meet with the hospital board and staff this week to go over the last final details of the project.

“We have just about finished design development, once we are all brought back to the table we have a little bit of time to get the early release package finished which is foundations, site work, and underground plumbing, and that will allow that work to go ahead and be bid out,” she says.

The City is presently working through contracts with Layton Construction and American Health Facilities Development for the program management of the project. Also discussed at the meeting was the idea of creating a joint committee of both Hospital Board and Borough Assembly members which Maxand says he believes is crucial as the project moves forward.

“Being the two primary groups the owners and the users there will defiantly be a need soon to put together a joint committee that basically will be receiving regular updates, asking questions, listening to each others concerns. This will make sure that we have the best information of what’s going on as we build this facility and getting the information out to the public. It will strengthen the relationship between the assembly and hospital and it will ensure that we have consistent information that we are both receiving at the same time in the same place,” he says.

At the September 13th Borough Assembly meeting there will be a call for a first reading of an ordinance for the November 15th election authorizing the City and Borough to provide the USDA a first lien on approximately 29 acres of property, and for the Wrangell Medical Center replacement facility to pay a USDA loan if approved in the amount of $24,700,000 for the construction of the new hospital facility as well as a willingness of qualified voters to accept the debt that would be issued by the USDA to fund the hospital construction.

There will be a Second reading of the ordinance on September 27th. The construction of the new hospital facility is still on schedule for completion by the set date of July 1st 2013.
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