Birchwood police training facility nears completion
Construction at Birchwood’s newest shooting range is progressing ahead of schedule, and the Southcentral Law Enforcement Tactical Training Center is scheduled to open for business this fall, according to project managers.
“Everything’s tracking well,” said Alan Czajkowski, director of maintenance and operations for the Anchorage Public Works Department.
When complete, the 22-acre facility is set to include a 2,200-square-foot operations building and four shooting ranges catering to local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, Czajkowski said. Construction is expected to cost $4.6 million, he said. The land was purchased for $1.95 million, and the project design cost approximately $487,000, according to Czajkowski.
The project has been in the works for more than 10 years, spearheaded by a “coalition of agencies,” according to a 2012 project report. Over the course of several sessions, the Alaska Legislature appropriated millions of dollars to design the facility and secure the land on which to build, and crews began clearing the property in 2016, Czajkowski said. Construction, delayed for several years, finally began this spring, he said.
Currently, Alaska law enforcement agencies train in a wide variety of places, from private facilities to public buildings and a shooting range at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, said representatives from the Anchorage Police Department and the Alaska State Troopers. Troopers, police and Village Public Safety Officers from communities around the state train at the Department of Public Safety Training Academy in Sitka, in a complex constructed nearly 50 years ago, according to AST.
The new Birchwood facility would provide an outdoor opportunity for multiple law enforcement agencies to train simultaneously, according to funding requests presented to the Legislature in 2011, 2012 and 2013. Requesting state funding in fiscal year 2010, the Anchorage Police Department and Municipality of Anchorage cited the “support of the entire South Central Alaska Law Enforcement community.”
As the facility inches toward completion, though, detailed plans for its use remain unclear. A spokeswoman for the Anchorage Police Department said the department would answer questions about the project during a coordinated roll-out this fall. A spokeswoman for the FBI in Anchorage was not immediately able to comment, and a spokeswoman for the Alaska State Troopers said her agency was unable to answer questions about the project and said troopers had no information about the multimillion-dollar, state-funded training grounds.
“We are not involved in the project and haven’t explored the idea of using a facility that isn’t even built yet,” AST spokeswoman Megan Peters wrote in an email.
The facility is expected to be completed by November at the latest, Czajkowski said.
Contact Chugiak-Eagle River Star reporter Kirsten Swann at [email protected]