Commentary

Another Fiasco: The Draft Anchorage Non-Motorized Plan

Pardon me, but...... - Fri, 03/05/2021 - 13:21

Read the piece. Sign the petition.

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The people of East Anchorage DO appreciate the opportunity to comment on the AMATS Non-Motorized Plan. We have long identified two high priority, long-standing goals for non-motorized connections within our community, which goals have focused not only upon greater community connectivity but also upon increased access to the community:

  • An East-West link bringing the Chester Creek Trails to the foothills at or about Chanshtnu Park, and.  

  • A North South trail running along Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (in or out of the base) connecting “the curve” to North East Anchorage by the Powerplant and thence to the bike path north of the highway.

which goals should include at a minimum the following “projects”:

  • Construction of bridges in Chanshtnu Muldoon Park

  • Connected and upgraded trail along the South Fork of Chester Creek from Cheney Lake Park through the existing easement to Patterson Street (private funding has already been ​​ sabotaged by Parks and Recreation once with the statement that this was planned for future paved development, though no such development is apparent in the Plan).    

  • Designation of some form of ROW and usage agreement, as well as eventual trail development along the MOA JBER boundary or in JBER

The people of East Anchorage have also endorsed additional projects, such as the completion of a second tunnel under DeBarr as set forth in the Russian Jack Springs Master Plan for decades, further connection above or below the Glenn Highway connecting the Northeast communities to the bike path on the North side of the highway, integration of our most eastern neighborhoods with non-motorized connectors, facilitating seamless access to school and services as recommended by a number of east side persons to the Community and Economic Development committee of the Assembly in February.

The people of East Anchorage have been at pains to pursue these plans through their councils’ CIP listings, political efforts, and external grant development, as well as individual and private group efforts, but the Plan largely ignores the interests of the entire East side of Anchorage. ​​ It does this in one way by eschewing any interaction with the voices and channels of the public as set out in the Municipal Charter and Ordinances, the community councils being designated just for such purposes. Frankly, the drafters’ admitted rejection of the lawfully constituted voice of the public ​​ on the East side ​​ at a minimum raises substantial questions about the value and efficacy of the public participation that the Plan alleges and at worst emphatically argues that the Plan is wholly defective. Yet, the Plan includes among its top six projects items that have never been vetted by the public (for example, despite the fact that the Campbell Creek Trail crossing at Lake Otis has been shown to really be a matter of little consequence see http://opinion.alaskapolicy.net/pardonme/?p=1500, somehow this has become the second most important aspect of Chapter 6 ​​ of the Plan (see pg xiv) suggesting that the drafters while not responding to the public, responded to select private interests.

The people of East Anchorage applaud the Plan’s recognition in Chapter 2 that Anchorage lags way behind other northern cities in addressing non-motorized users, and likewise applauds the recommendations that the MOA affiliate or join NACTO, but we are fully aware that the Assembly could have addressed these matters anytime over the last decade, and within the last several months outright refused to address the recommendation that the MOA affiliate with NACTO. Moreover, the draft, in failing to reject prior management and design which inappropriately rejected protected bike lanes and placed total reliance on paint as the most important aspect of providing safe infrastructure for non-motorized users, appear to endorse a policy of “more of the same”, which does little or nothing to make Anchorage safe for “All Ages and Abilities”. The perfect example of this is the Pine St. projected which expended some $100,000.00 for an unsafe design that can only possibly be useful 6 months a year based on paint alone where operating speeds are over 35 mph which is still heralded as a “success” though it is one of Anchorage’s most dismal failures and a huge waste of funds.

Yes, the people of East Anchorage appreciate the opportunity to “comment” on the Plan, but absent community council ​​ involvement as its foundation, the Plan is fundamentally defective and inadequate, and the the people of East Anchorage would have to place themselves in the role of the drafters, and demand appropriate staffing and funding, to fully address every detail and concern which the Plan fails to manage because of its inverted process, not to mention an additional year of development.

The people of East Anchorage cannot support or endorse the current plan. While some of the aspects of the Plan may be laudable, the process by which the Plan was developed, and the totality of the product is on the whole not a product that the people of East Anchorage can endorse as appropriate. We need a lengthy public input process regarding this and all future Non-Motorized Plans, that eschews private interests and encompasses a recognition that the current Assembly has silently declared war on the public.

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Categories: Commentary

This communication was paid for by Marc Grober, 5610 Radcliff Dr. Anchorage, AK 99504
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