West Anchorage District Plan Sees Controversy With Coastal Trail

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by Russ Slaten

In it's bimonthly meeting the Anchorage Assembly decided the direction for West Anchorage development. The assembly passed the West Anchorage District Plan 11-1.

Most public testimony was directed to defending the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, due to talk of expanding the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.

Assembly Chair Ernie Hall said the West Anchorage plan is a roadmap to the future, defining the community's direction in city development.

The West Anchorage District Plan is filled with hundreds of pages of suggestions, but last month's meeting saw the most public testimony with a land swap proposal between the city and the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.

City planners said a land swap would give Point Waronzof to the airport, and the city would secure other public parks owned by the airport.

Patrick flynn, the only assembly member to vote down the plan, said the planning department spent too much time considering a north-south runway, when too many engineering and financial constraints make it nearly impossible. Flynn said in order to build the runway it would cost over a billion dollars to relocate the city's primary sewer treatment facility.

The Tony Knowles Coastal Trail was the public's biggest concern, but city officials say they are committed to maintaining the trail.

Hall says $2 million from the state, along with a $1.25 million city bond, will go toward trail upgrades, improving pavement and addressing other issues.

"The Coastal Trail is one of the jewels of the city and it's always going to be there, and it's always going to be protected and well maintained," said Anchorage Assembly Chair Ernie Hall.

Airport officials said the district plan makes no mention of a north-south runway, and said they are also committed to maintaining a continuous Coastal Trail.

"The airport master plan will look at how the airport could and should best develop property under its control to meet the needs of the aviation industry, and I would encourage the public to become engaged, remain engaged and be involved in the airport master plan public process," said Airport Manager John Parrott.

The airport master plan open house will allow the public to create a list of issues appropriate to study in a plan. It takes place next Tuesday (July 17) evening (6 p.m. - 10 p.m.) at the Coast International Inn near the airport.

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