Proposition 3: Parks and trails

Photo credit: Jian Bautista

In the upcoming local election taking place on April 4, Anchorage Parks and Trails are on the ballot for Anchorage Parks and Recreation service area capital improvement bonds.

Proposition 3 is the parks bond that will fund park and trail improvement projects across Anchorage by investing $1.84 per $100,000 home value and leveraging bond funds with private donations and grants.

“Our parks and trails make Anchorage a great place to live, work and play,” Laura Vachula, communications manager at Anchorage Park Foundation, said. “Investing in parks and trails is an investment in our economy because they attract a talented workforce and tourism to our city. The bond will fund safety and improvement projects that the community asked for.”

With the many parks and trails comes a great amount of maintenance.

“This year, there are things on the parks bond all over town that should make a difference in neighborhoods and also make a difference to our whole gorgeous system of parks and trails,” Beth Nordlund, executive director at Anchorage Park Foundation, said. “There are 226 parks and 250 miles of trails in anchorage, so we have a lot to take care of and this is the way that we do it.”

There are many repairs, renovations and new construction the parks bond will cover throughout Anchorage. Some of these include safety improvements with repairing and resurfacing Campbell Creek trail, adding LED lighting and emergency locators along Chester Creek Trail near Valley of the Moon Park, safer routes to Sand Lake Elementary and building phase two of Muldoon Town Square, which will include a playground, ice skating loop and community garden.

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Besides these safety improvements and community building, increasing accessibility at playgrounds is one feature that the Anchorage Park Foundation is working towards for the future of all parks.

“Inclusive playgrounds are so that play grounds can be accessible to kids that are in wheel chairs or have other mobility issues. We use the term inclusive play to mean that there will be play features everyone can be involved in playing at a playground,” Nordlund said. “We have 10 inclusive playgrounds to date and three more under construction this summer, but our theory is that every time we go in and take out a playground that’s old, unsafe and no longer a fun feature for a neighborhood, we need to replace it with a playground that suits the neighborhoods needs best and these days we’re really focusing on inclusive playgrounds.”

Not only will this bond help build inclusive playgrounds outdoors, but the Anchorage Parks Foundation is looking to build the first indoor inclusive playground.

“There is one [inclusive playground] that has never been done before. At the Fairview Recreation Center, there is an under-utilized indoor space there that they want to build an indoor playground for, and that one will be inclusive as well,” Nordlund said. “It will be accessible to kids in wheelchairs or that have mobility issues, but will also have a lot of ground level play and should be really fun. We’re looking forward to that.”

There are many parks and trails that surround homes around Anchorage and it is encouraged to invest back into the city.

“Voters of Anchorage should not pass up this bargain,” Vachula said. “For an investment of just $1.84 per $100,000 of home value, they will receive safer trails, inclusive parks and inspire stewardship that makes our park system and city great.”

Besides Proposition 3, there are other bonds that help parks like Proposition 4, which is the Roads Bond that will help make important trail connections by including multi-use lanes in road upgrades. There is also Proposition 7 that will expand the Anchorage Parks and Recreation Service Area to include municipal areas north of McHugh Creek.

Voting locally can help residents have a voice for their idea of how they believe Anchorage should be.

“I do feel it’s very important to vote local, all big positive change in this country has started at the local level, I believe it’s where our vote has the biggest impact,” David Donaldson, Anchorage resident, said. “I will be voting for prop 3 because I simply believe that the benefit will out weigh the cost.”

Community is an important factor when it comes to determining the decision for the parks bond. Some believe that the safer the parks and trails, the lower the crime rate will become. Having active Anchorage residents is also something community members would like to see around Anchorage.

“Our bike trails and parks are some of the things that really help form a community. With all of the crime around Anchorage I also think it’s a safety issue to make sure that we as a community keep these trails and parks safe for all users, but especially kids and families,” Donaldson said. “If the kids and families stop using the public areas and they become less traveled, that won’t help keep the crime down. The more people that are out and about using our trails, the safer it will be for all users, not to mention the overall health benefit to the community of our citizens being active.”

Voting takes place on April 4, and there are other propositions that support parks. If there are issues or projects that you believe should be taken into consideration, take a look at the ballot and other propositions that may back certain causes.