4M KR. FOR 160 PROJECTS: Longyearbyen council members OK immediate- and medium-range infrastructure repairs/upgrades to help local businesses during coronavirus crisis

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Spending four million kroner for locals to perform a wide range of projects – from simple tasks like cleaning and painting the school to those requiring specialized skills such as repairing and upgrading the city’s power plant – was approved Wednesday by Longyearbyen Community Council members seeking to help a community facing economic peril due to the coronavirus crisis.

The plan approved during a meeting of the council’s Administration Committee (details begin on page 21 of the meeting’s agenda) includes a lengthy list of projects, some of which can begin immediately and others with projected starting dates extending into next year.

“The Administration Committee wants the city to help maintain business activity in Longyearbyen, and requests…an overview of assignments/work that can be outsourced to local business or have already been established against the background of the situation we are in now,” the committee’s report states. “(The committee) primarily aims for work that is appropriate to do now that buildings are empty/closed, but also other work that is intended to keep businesses in Longyearbyen going.”

Terje Aunevik, a council member and head of the Svalbard Businesses Association, said an application process for the projects has not been determined yet.

The project list includes virtually every public facility including Longyearbyen School, Svalbardhallen, the municipal building, harbor, fire station, roads and more. City leaders, after consulting local contractors, Store Norske and Statsbygg, stated in its report immediate action is needed to prevent the massive layoffs that have already ht the tourism and service industries.

“The feedback we received after being in contact with contractors shows that most people report that they must lay off personnel within a short period of time unless the volume of assignments increases,” the report states. “A short time means from now until the summer. In the medium term (from about July 1 onwards) this situation will change dramatically unless the situation normalizes.”

The allocation is independent of nearly 180 million kroner the local council is seeking from Parliament to fund local projects and reimbursement for any reductions in municipal fees.

A sampling of projects in council’s list that can be started before July 1 include:

Longyearbyen School
• New flooring inside door to high school towards the glass yard.
• Painting of toilets.
• New radiators in school’s staff room and elsewhere.

Polarflokken kindergarten
• Flooring for living room, corridor and playroom.
• Wallpaper under sinks, corridor.
• Painting the Midnight Sun room.

City municipal building
• Dining/break room upgrade.
• New exit doors.
• New radiators.

Svalbardhallen
• Renovate shower areas.
• Cleaning of ventilation ducts.
• Re-tile floors in dressing rooms and second floor.

Other
• Thorough cleaning and cleaning of all technical rooms/sub-centers in city buildings.
• Inspect screws, fittings and other installations at Kullturhuset
• Clean and clear out the old diesel generator building, disconnect the transformer.