Wednesday, January 1, 2014
The Colville Business Council continues to make plans to replace the tribal administration building, which was destroyed by fire last July, but money for the project won’t come from the Qwam Qwmpt Plan.
That plan outlines how the tribe plans to spend half of a $193 million lawsuit settlement with the U.S. government over mismanagement of trust lands. Qwam Qwmpt allows funding for a tribal language endowment, land purchases, health and wellness, a forest restoration plan and a community development plan.
A challenge to that plan by members was dismissed from tribal court in early October. Half the settlement amount was distributed to members; the court challenge sought distribution of the remainder to members.
By the 10-signature process, under which action can be taken without a meeting by gathering signatures of 10 council members, the council in November rescinded a resolution allocating $40 million from Qwam Qwmpt for construction of the new administration building.
“We needed to better prioritize use of the money,” Inchelium District Councilman Allen Hammond said. He started the 10-signature sheet.
The document calls for building the new government building with up to $12 million from the tribe’s sustainable fund.
Tribal officials will seek U.S. Department of Agriculture funding, block grants, insurance, new market tax credits and low-interest loan opportunities for the building’s funding.
The previous building burned to the ground July 29, 2013. Colville Business Council Chairman Michael O. Finley said at the time that the replacement building would be placed on a fast track for construction.
The tribe proposes a phased development that would include demolition of houses and buildings on the agency campus and construction of a 200,000- to 260,000-square-foot facility to house about 59 tribal departments.
Finley said the building would be constructed on the site of softball fields between state Highway 155 and the former tribal headquarters site. Plans for the new building were announced before the fire.
The new building would have a bigger footprint than the old building and would be a change of use for some of the land. Some old houses would be razed.
Finley said he’s not sure if the softball fields would be relocated.
The historic Skolaskin Church, which sits at the corner of the property across the street from the old administration building site, would be moved. That church, built in the 1870s, was moved from the mouth of the San Poil River when water backed up by Grand Coulee Dam inundated the area.
The road running in front of the old administration building would be closed and become part of the new building’s site.
Tribal officials plan to consolidate all tribal programs, administrative offices and the council into one building. They’re now spread all across the agency campus two miles south of Nespelem and, since the fire, into buildings west of the agency near the tribe’s correctional facility.
The previous building had been home to tribal government since 1975.