Mayor Sullivan Vetoes East Anchorage Park, Assembly Could Override

Mayor Dan Sullivan has vetoed an ordinance the Assembly passed last week that designated municipal land in East Anchorage for a park.

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 Photo © Jerrianne Lowther: Realigned creek near Grass Creek Village & Begich Middle School west of Muldoon.
Photo © Jerrianne Lowther: Realigned creek near Grass Creek Village & Begich Middle School west of Muldoon.

The municipality purchased the parcel near the intersection of Muldoon and Debarr streets in 2006 for $5 million from the federal government, which had seized it in a drug case.

Chester Creek runs through the property, and East Anchorage residents have been pushing for a park there for several years. The back part of the 30-acre property has been OK’d by the municipality for use as a park, but Mayor Dan Sullivan has fought to keep some of the land for residential and commercial use. He says he vetoed the Assembly’s decision because it did not follow the correct process.

“There’s already a tremendous amount of park land in East Anchorage, so it’s not like there’s a shortage of parks. What we are short of however is residential land,” Sullivan said. “And to just automatically, without going through a process to just say that all this land that could be developed for both small business and residential should be one hundred percent park, I think is really jumping the gun on the process.”

Sullivan says the Assembly should have waited on a decision until the East Anchorage District Plan is finished. East Anchorage Assembly member Adam Trombley, who wrote the ordinance designating the park, says the Muldoon strip is one of the most densely populated sections of town. And he says splitting the land and selling the front portions off is a bad idea.

Photos © Jerrianne Lowther: Chester Creek in natural creekbed east of Muldoon Road.
Photos © Jerrianne Lowther: Chester Creek in natural creekbed east of Muldoon Road.

“Let’s talk about the developability of the land. The middle section is not developable, not a market prices, because of the soil,” Trombley said. “The front commercial property – nobody’s been pounding on the municipalities door, ‘sell me that property, sell me that property – I want to develop it, I want to develop it.’ So I’m not entirely sure about his justification of why he wants to do that.”

Part of the land is reportedly contaminated with pesticides from when a greenhouse operated there. Trombly argues development of a park would raise the value of existing residential property in the area and provide a common gathering place for one of the city’s most diverse neighborhoods.

Trombley is currently fighting to keep his Assembly seat in a high profile race against former legislator Pete Peterson and former NFL player and manager of the Northway Mall, Mao Tosi.

The assembly can override Sullivan’s veto with 8 votes. The next meeting of the Anchorage Assembly is Tuesday, March 25.

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Daysha Eaton is a contributor with the Alaska Public Radio Network. Daysha Eaton holds a B.A. from Evergreen State College, and a M.A. from the University of Southern California. Daysha got her start in radio at Seattle public radio stations, KPLU and KUOW. Before coming to KBBI, she was the News Director at KYUK in Bethel. She has also worked as the Southcentral Reporter for KSKA in Anchorage. Daysha's work has appeared on NPR's "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered", PRI's "The World" and "National Native News". She's happy to take assignments, and to get news tips, which are best sent via email. Daysha became a journalist because she believes in the power of storytelling. Stories connect us and they help us make sense of our world. They shed light on injustice and they comfort us in troubled times. She got into public broadcasting because it seems to fulfill the intention of the 4th Estate and to most effectively apply the freedom of the press granted to us through the Constitution. She feels that public radio has a special way of moving people emotionally through sound, taking them to remote places, introducing them to people they would not otherwise meet and compelling them to think about issues they might ordinarily overlook.

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