Newtok Planning Group

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Mertarvik Housing Master Plan

The Mertarvik Housing Master Plan, completed February 10, 2017 by the Cold Climate Housing Research Center, addresses the short-term and long-term housing and infrastructure needs of the Newtok community at Mertarvik. The plan addresses the need for a phased approach to housing and services at multiple scales, focusing on both the design standards of the individual home and collaboration with agencies on community-wide infrastructure.

For more information, please visit the project page here.

The Newtok Planning Group was formed in May 2006 when representatives from state and federal agencies and non-governmental organizations began meeting with Newtok to coordinate assistance in the relocation of the community to a new village site on Nelson Island. The relocation site is called Mertarvik, which in Yup’ik means, “getting water from the spring.”

Mertarvik Logo

The village of Newtok is threatened by advancing erosion caused by the Ninglick River adjacent to the village. This progressive erosion, in combination with permafrost degradation and flooding of the village during seasonal storms has created a serious threat to the existence of the village. Years of erosion studies have concluded that Newtok must relocate as there is no permanent and cost-effective alternative for remaining at the current village site.

In 2006, Newtok Village requested the assistance of the Division of Community and Regional Affairs (DCRA), within the Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development (DCCED), with Newtok's relocation effort. DCCED is directed by two Alaska Administrative Orders (AO 231 and AO 239) "to act as the state coordinating agency to coordinate with the other state and federal agencies to propose long-term solutions to the ongoing erosion issues in... affected coastal communities..." Consistent with this directive, DCRA organized the Newtok Planning Group (NPG) to coordinate assistance to Newtok on the relocation effort.

The NPG has convened regularly since its formation, working with Newtok and across agencies to leverage resources, secure funding, and to establish a framework and strategy for moving the relocation process forward. Download a list of the participants in the NPG.

Through the unique partnership of the NPG, a range of initiatives, studies, and pioneer infrastructure projects has been completed or is currently underway at Mertarvik. Collaboration among Newtok and state and federal agencies has been behind the success of every project. The timeline below highlights many of the relocation activities coordinated through the NPG over the past decade. Most of these activities involved the collaboration of multiple agencies.  (Click timeline to open full-sized version.)

The photo below shows the pioneer infrastructure developed at Mertarvik through the coordination of the NPG. (Click photo to open full-sized version.)

The beginning of a new village - Mertarvik on Nelson Island. Photo: Patrick Lemay; Labels: Sally Russell Cox

 

To learn more about the relocation efforts currently underway for Newtok and the new village site, Mertarvik, please see "Relocation Activities" in the Resources Section, below.

Resources

A Brief History of the Settlement of Newtok and Village Relocation Efforts
Meeting Minutes/Agendas
Relocation Activities
Newtok Planning Group Documents
Reports and Studies
Maps and Aerial Photos
Mertarvik Site Visit Photos

 

For more information contact:

Sally Russell Cox

Division of Community and Regional Affairs
Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development
550 West 7th Avenue, Suite 1640
Anchorage, AK 99501
Phone: (907) 269-4588 FAX: (907) 269-4066
Email:sally.cox@alaska.gov