Edit/update: The assembly has deferred a vote on adoption of the Chugach State Park Access Plan by two weeks to the 23rd, and is actively considering not adopting the plan. Very few proponents of park access came out to the meeting on the 9th. If MOA does not adopt the plan, it will be significantly harder to ensure that multiple existing park access trails be protected with public access easements or platting dedications in the future - i.e. many of the trails you may presently use to get to the park may be closed forever when the the adjoining private properties are subdivided and streets are dedicated as private. This is already happening - the public lost access to an area in the Eagle River Valley only a few years ago when the land underlying an existing but unsecured access route was subdivided, and the subdivision roads were dedicated privately. MOA adoption of this plan will commit the municipality to approving public dedications only on parking connecting roads, not private dedications. In other words, support of the access plan is support for a vision of the park that limits private gated subdivisions and favors open public streets that can be used to get into the park.
More information is available here: http://www.muni.org/Departments/Assembly/Events/Pages/AO2014-101.aspx. Written comments can also be sent; email [masked]. The assembly is actively seeking input from user groups for the next two weeks - that means us! Not to put too fine of a point on this, but this vote by the assembly is perhaps the most key decision point in years of work to ensure that we can continue to access Chugach State Park along the same trails and routes we have for decades past. Speak now, or risk loosing access to the trails we love.
Anyone with assistant organizer status is encouraged to cross post this to the Adventurers meetup page.
Here my comment, submitted via email today:
To the members of the Anchorage Municipal Assembly,
I am writing you to express my support for adoption of the Chugach State Park Access Plan, as considered under AO 2014-101. I attempted to attend the assembly meeting held on the 9th of September, but did make it to the meeting in time to provide testimony due to the co-occurring Park and Recreation Department Bonna Sosa Tuesday NIght Race Series - hopefully, this email will suffice instead.
I feel that Chugach State Park's close proximity to Anchorage, Eagle River and Girdwood is a defining element of our City. Every one of our communities abuts the park, and every part of the municipality benefits from its presence. I consider the existence of the park to be integral to my decision and continuing commitment to settle permanently in Anchorage, as the close proximity of the park to Anchorage provides me the opportunity to balance an urban existence of traffic and offices and grass yards with the big open of the park's mixed high alpine landscape. While I use both secured and unsecured access points to access trails and park travel routes primarily for trail running, I take great satisfaction in knowing that I am utilizing legal access where it exists, and that the access points I employee will still be available in years to come. I do not support the creation of additional private subdivisions adjacent to the park that block the public from accessing this unique resource, though I certainly understand the concerns of residents who live adjacent to the park and who wish to avoid having their streets turn into parking lots on the weekends, and am eager to do my part to minimize the impact I may have when I drive and park on public streets adjacent to the park in order to access park trails. To that end, I offer that adoption of the plan is a good policy for the municipality on numerous accounts, as the park (and access to it) significantly adds to the quality of life in our City, expanding access increases visitation to the park and thereby increases spending on recreational equipment at local retailers, and expanded recreational opportunities provides our residents with more opportunities for exercise, thereby helping to keep our population healthy and fit.
Details aside, I primarily want to express my strong support for approval of AO 2014-101. I have not previously written to the assembly nor spoken at an assembly meeting in the seven years I've lived in Anchorage, but I feel strongly enough about this issue that I wish to speak up on AO[masked] now. Thank you for considering my comments, and for addressing this important issue.
Additionally, I would like to be added to any mailing lists associated with the proposed measure, if any are maintained. Thank you.
At risk of posting something with psuedo-political implications (which I promise to do only this once), this was recently provided to me as a commentor on the Chugach State Park Access Plan, and may be of interest to many of the trail users in this group:
Dear Alaskans, As you may know, the State of Alaska, in consultation with the Municipality of Anchorage (MOA), has been working to address the long standing issue of access to Chugach State Park through the development of the Chugach Access Plan. The intent of the Chugach Access Plan is to systematically address concerns that have been raised over the years and provide an organized strategy for securing and improving access to the park [i.e. trails that are legal to use, that cannot be closed off to our use - James] that is consistent with planned municipal development into the future. Since this plan is intended to serve as a tool to aid both the State and the MOA in decision making, it will require adoption by both entities to be implemented. Currently, the plan is going through the municipal adoption process for incorporation as an element of the Municipality of Anchorage’s Comprehensive Plan. A public hearing on the plan has been scheduled for Tuesday, September 9th before the MOA Assembly. You are encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity to provide your perspective on preserving access to Chugach State Park. For more on the plan information, visit: http://www.muni.org/Departments/OCPD/Planning/Projects/Pages/ChugachAccessPlan.aspx
Do you want to see access to Chugach State Park defended and/or expanded? MOA adoption of this plan is crucial to that goal, as MOA platting action is a critical component to creating CSP access.