November 3, 2011 |

Chilkoot Estates subdivision opens doors

At the intersection of Chilkoot Street and Chilkoot Court, several generations of Chilkoot Natives gathered Friday for the ceremonial opening of the Chilkoot Estates subdivision.

Chilkoot Indian Association president Harriet Brouillette and administrator Dave Berry helped cut an inscribed ribbon, with help from Brouillette’s mother and Berry’s grandson.

Residents toured two, four-plex apartment buildings that feature hardwood flooring, in-floor heating and boilers that burn wood pellets or heating oil.

"It’s been interesting because we’ve had to learn a lot, including how to operate apartment buildings, how to figure rent according to people’s income. There are so many things to think about," said president Brouillette.

Former tribal president Lee Clayton said the day marked the culmination of a 20-year effort that included securing the return of the land from the national Presbyterian Church and separating from a regional housing authority that wasn’t serving the tribe.

"It’s a great expression of (tribal) self-determination. It’s the tribe taking responsibility and deciding to step up and help their members," Clayton said.

After acquiring the land, ideas for it ranged from logging it to developing a shopping mall, Clayton said. "It took a long time to get it all together but the really nice part is we came to agreement. I love the way it’s laid out. There was a lot of thought put into it."

Georgiana Hotch, the tribe’s assistant office manager, was handing out refreshments as residents stopped by to check out the new units. She said the project would fill a need, but also leave a legacy.

"We have a high degree of overcrowdedness in our homes. Besides helping with that, this provided over $2 million in income in labor and materials for the community," Hotch said. "I also think it’s really important to be able to say we’re doing this for our children and grandchildren. It’s something we can hand down to them."

Scott Hansen, the tribe’s transportation coordinator and project manager for the road section of the project, said one of the two multi-fuel boilers can easily heat all eight units in the summertime. Last week, the boilers were burning solely wood pellets, at a rate of 200 pounds per day for both buildings.

What volume of pellets will be necessary in deep winter and whether oil would be burned have yet to be determined, Hansen said. "We’ll look at it with efficiency and costs, as everyone does. We’ll continue to refine our numbers as we get more data."

Della Brouillette, a CIA tribal council member, said contractor Tony Malone deserved credit for helping spearhead construction since he came on the job in June 2010. "He’s been a major part of this. He stepped right in when he was hired."