Issue V – Girdwood Holtan Hills on HLB Agenda for Disposal – Childcare & Library Boosters Updates

Girdwood Inc Newsletter – Issue V

Welcome to Issue V of the Girdwood Inc Newsletter! We would like to express thanks to the many members of the community who sent in letters of support for the Girdwood Workforce Childcare Project to assembly. We are very excited that these efforts have merited a $1.6 million dollar grant from the Municipality of Anchorage’s American Rescue Plan Act funds. Our assembly members, Suzanne LaFrance and Randy Sulte together brought an amendment for $100,000 of the funds to be made available right away for predevelopment work. The remaining $1.5 million will require a match. We will continue to pursue the goal of developing a new and safe childcare facility in the Girdwood valley. If you are interested in donating toward the building, please reach out to Girdwood Inc or Little Bears Playhouse at the information below. If any family, foundation or corporate sponsor brings a $1 million+ donation, they will be given naming rights for the building, which will be a legacy staple in the community for decades to come. We look forward to bringing you additional information on this project as it progresses.

Community Champion: Joan Lower

Joan Lower has called Girdwood home since 1979. She is currently the Little Bears Playhouse President and has served on the board since her children were Little Bears themselves, in the early 90s.

Joan earned a B.S. in Elementary Education from Louisiana State University and a Master of Education from University of New Orleans. She married her husband Jim in 1980 and together raised 3 children in Girdwood. Joan taught for several years in New Orleans and Anchorage before teaching for 31 years at Girdwood School Elementary. The last 21 years were spent as Girdwood’s Kindergarten teacher.

Joan works as the Event Coordinator for Our Lady of the Snows, where she books and manages weddings, receptions, and more. She enjoys working in her flower garden and her 2 pet pigeons, one of whom loves to photobomb zoom meetings.

It has always been her dream to see Little Bears Playhouse operate out of a modern, state-of-the-art building, with ample space to accommodate the need for childcare and early childhood education in our community. “Thanks to the efforts of many community members, that dream is in reach!”

Holtan Hills: Holtan Hills continues to be the largest matter facing our community. The Girdwood Board of Supervisors’ Holtan Hills Housing Advisory Committee (HHHAC) has held regular meetings in hopes of negotiating a development which can help address some of Girdwood’s needs and concerns regarding the project.

The HHHAC meetings have resulted in two important documents. One, is a list of concerns and questions discussed at previous meetings or written comments. The questions submitted to Girdwood Inc from the July 19th Assembly Member Listening Session were included and provided to the committee and relevant entity to respond. The committee has also created a document with specific requests to amend the development agreement. The committee intends to meet with developers and Heritage Land Bank on September 21st at 4:00 PM to discuss their response to these requests.

The following day, September 22, Heritage Land Bank has the disposal under “Proposed Action Items and Public Hearings” on their agenda. “HLBAC Resolution 2022-09: A resolution recommending approval of the competitive disposal of portions of HLB Parcels 6-011, 6-016, and 6-017, legally described as Tract I Prince Addition Alyeska Subdivision (Plat 87-131)(PID 075-311-04-000), Tract B Girdwood Elementary School Subdivision (Plat 85-38)(PID 075-031-32-000), and Tract 9A Section 9 Township 10 North Range 2 East (Plat 73-220)(PID 075-041-31-000), to CY Investments as described in the Development Agreement between the developer and the Municipality of Anchorage dated April 29, 2022, and amend the HLB 2021 Annual Work Program.”

“Community members are strongly urged to provide testimony. Anyone wishing to provide public testimony via telephone or Teams must email by 5:00 pm the day before the meeting. Please provide your name, phone number, and agenda item number/title for which you wish to provide testimony. The subject line should read “HLBAC Testimony.” All members of the public shall be muted until called on to testify.”

You can participate in person or online. If you are unable to attend, but want to express your thoughts to the HLB staff and commissioners, you can send an email to before Friday 9/16/2022 5:00 PM and ask that it is included in the commissioner’s packet.

These next few months will be very important to the future of this project. Before land can be disposed of, it will be voted on by the Heritage Land Bank Advisory Committee and must be approved by a positive vote at Anchorage Assembly. Make sure to follow Girdwood Inc Facebook page and website for important dates and meetings regarding this project.

Community Spotlight: A message from Gerrish Library and Community Room Boosters

“Girdwood is grappling with many issues right now and Gerrish Library is no exception. Recently Jamie White, Gerrish’s librarian and branch manager, took a position in Washington creating a vacancy. It came to our attention that the municipality intends to fill that position without meeting established standards and minimum requirements of a Master of Library Science degree (MLS). The position will be downgraded to more entry level requirements (BA and some experience). The Gerrish Library Boosters strongly oppose this move.

To the administration, an MLS means money, and the downgrade of Gerrish library manager is a money-saving move. For us, we see this as a threat to the vitality of the library and the community.

The library is a public manifestation and demonstration of what a local government can do. It is here for all of us. For most of us in Girdwood, the library is the center, the heart and soul of the community. It is dynamic and interactive. Our librarians are a pathway and funnel of knowledge, commitment, and services that help us thrive and enrich us. A librarian with an MLS brings this knowledge to the job.

We wish to keep Gerrish Library dynamic. Using the library is the best way to support the library. And providing a professional and qualified librarian is the best way Gerrish Library can serve the community.”

We hope you have been enjoying our newsletters and find them helpful in keeping the community informed on important matters. Until next time!

Donate toward Girdwood Workforce Childcare Project Building
Girdwood Inc: PO Box 1102 Girdwood, AK 99587
Little Bears Playhouse: PO Box 350 Girdwood, AK 99587


To join via Microsoft Teams click this link to enter the meeting.

To join via telephone call 907-519-0237 and use conference ID 958 050 080#

Or join in-person at the Permit & Development Center, Training Room, 4700 Elmore Road, Anchorage, Alaska 99507