On October 11, 2019, Newtok residents began the long-awaited move to a new townsite located at Mertarvik. By early November, more than 130 of approximately 354 Newtok residents will have permanently moved into 21 homes at the Mertarvik relocation site.
In March 2018, the Denali Commission received a $15M funding increase resulting from the efforts of our congressional delegation. Along with this one-time plus-up, the Commission added $10.2M of its regular funding for a total investment of $25.2M. This investment, together with other partner funding, has been utilized to significantly advance the development of a new townsite at Mertarvik and ready the location for year-round occupation.
Via strategic partnerships, including with ANTHC as Program Manager, and creative contracting vehicles, the last 18 months saw the construction of 13 new houses with in-home sanitation systems, temporary school facilities, construction camp facilities, an interim airstrip incorporated into the quarry road, a power plant and electrical distribution system, a water treatment plant, water distribution and wastewater service for public facilities, a bulk fuel tank farm, a landfill, townsite roads, and communication and internet systems. In addition, a temporary clinic and store will be established before the end of the 2019 construction season.
The objective of our investment is year-round occupation of Mertarvik with a sufficient population to remove programmatic barriers limiting engagement by other agencies. We have endeavored to catalyze state and federal efforts to complete the relocation of the remaining Newtok residents over the next several years.