Fairbanks Pledges $1.7 Million to Ice Alaska’s Effort to Purchase Railroad Land

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

The Fairbanks Assembly passed a resolution allowing the borough to give Ice Alaska $1.7 million to help it buy land from the Alaska Railroad. The ice carving group and the railroad have been unable to agree on a long-term lease or purchase deal for the 30-acre property where the World Ice Art Championships are held. Short of a new deal, Ice Alaska has to vacate the railroad land by June 30. Speaking at last Thursday’s Fairbanks North Star Assembly meeting, member Nadine Winters said there’s a contingency stipulation in the resolution giving money to Ice Alaska.

The resolution sets a June 30 deadline for Ice Alaska to reach an agreement with the Railroad. The Railroad recently rejected a $4 million offer from Ice Alaska to buy the property, citing uncertain borough participation.  The new resolution assures the $1.7 million borough portion is available.

The assembly passed a second resolution which kicks in if Ice Alaska doesn’t secure a purchase agreement.  It would allow the group and other organizations to submit proposals for the funding to continue the ice carving event at another site.  The Tanana Valley Fair Association and North Pole’s Christmas in Ice have expressed interest in taking over the Ice Art Championships.  North Pole Mayor Doug Isaacson said the local volunteers who put on the annual Christmas ice sculpture display, are already preparing in case they get a chance to host the larger February-March event.

Isaacson said dozens of large ice blocks have been stockpiled in North Pole.  He says volunteers can pull off the event, but the borough money is important for buildings and land.

Download Audio (MP3)