|The UAF Palmer Research and Extension Center (aka the Kremlin building) on Fireweed Ave.|
The future of the Kremlin building on Fireweed Street in Palmer is "uncertain," according to Jud Scott, the farm superintendent at the University of Alaska-Fairbank's Palmer Center for Sustainable Living (aka the Matanuska Experiment Farm on Trunk Road).
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced earlier this month it was terminating the Fairbanks-based Agricultural Research Service due to budget cuts. Scientists who’ve spent the last decade with the Subarctic Agricultural Research Unit doing plant and fish byproduct research are vacating premises they’ve rented from UAF. Scott said ARS has rented space both in the Kremlin Building and at the farm.
According to Sandy Miller-Hayes, the public information officer for ARS in Washington D.C., Fairbanks was designated an official research station in 2001 and currently hosts 10 employees there and in Palmer. Many have already relocated to other jobs within the ARS system, which includes 100 locations around the U.S. Although local scientist, Dan Barney, referred questions to Miller-Hayes, the Alaska ARS team's research objectives included utilizing fish byproducts in a variety of ways, from composting to pet food and working on crop management for northern latitudes. (Click here for more.)
Scott said the USDA’s plans to vacate the Kremlin coincides with an influx of money for long overdue building maintenance. One goal is to renovate office space and move farm employees out of the Kremlin and to the farm to centralize operations and tighten the budget.
“This is the first substantial kind of funding we've gotten for any kind of maintenance at the farm for years,” Scott said.
He couldn’t say what the plans were for an empty, 1949-era Kremlin building, other than that its destiny is in the hands of the University of Alaska Land Management Office. That office is closed until Jan. 4.
“The dean is working with groups already to try and get somebody else to utilize that space,” Scott said. “As far as I know, they haven't decided who to work with.”