It’s been one of the rainiest summer’s on record in Fairbanks, but that hasn’t hampered the debut of new recreation area.
The Fairbanks North Star Borough’s opened the new Tanana Lakes Recreation site in June. It offers a swim beach, picnic area and launches for motorized and paddle boats along the Tanana River in south Fairbanks. Borough Project Coordinator Steve Taylor says despite this summer’s mostly cool wet weather, the area has been popular.
“On the days when the sun is shining, we’ve had — just from our own expectations — pretty solid use down there.”
Taylor cites numerous days when the beach parking lot overflowed. There are no admission or parking fees at Tanana Lakes, and Taylor points to the area’s location at the end of South Cushman Street, as another key to its popularity.
“It’s so close to town,” Taylor says. “It’s just a quick jaunt for folks to get down there, that I think that’s made it really appealing. And it’s just a beautiful area too, it really has a lot of [good] qualities that can attract people.”
Under development since 2008, more than $3 million of federal, state and local funds, plus private grants, have been invested in Tanana Lakes, transforming a part of south Fairbanks that was a common spot for crime and partying.
Taylor says having staff on site nearly round the clock this summer helped keep the area safe. He says staffing will continue through moose hunting season, during which the area is also expected to get a lot of use. Tanana Lakes is still under development. Taylor says immediate plans call for more basic infrastructure.
Taylor says the borough has received a 62 thousand dollar grant for trail work, and will pursue money for additional projects. Borough Parks and Recreation Department is holding public meetings to gather input on Tanana Lakes following the rec sites first summer .