Holtan Hills moves to Assembly vote, Tribute to Girdwood Legend & Girdwood Nordic Ski Club Spotlight

Welcome to the 6th issue of Girdwood Inc’s newsletter! We are pleased we have been able to bring our community information and updates over the past year and look forward to what next year will bring. This issue, we will give tribute to a local Girdwood legend, provide an urgent update regarding Holtan Hills and a brief history and news for Girdwood Nordic Ski Club.

Community Champion:

This fall, Mr. John James Trautner left a hole in the hearts of many, as he departed this world on September 19, 2022. John was a Girdwood staple, whose footprints are known throughout the community for making an impact wherever he had tread.

John arrived to Alaska in 1958 and moved to Girdwood in 1969. He was a photographer, logger, gold miner, fisherman, businessman and entrepreneur. He was also a fire boss for BLM, a fire Chief for Girdwood, a dog musher, real estate investor and skier. He owned the Texaco Service Station on the Alyeska Highway 1977-1995, and developed it into the Tesoro Mall. During that time he ran a wrecker service and pulled many terrified drivers out of ditches in the very worst weather the old Seward Highway had to offer.

His service through Lions Clubs International since 1953 was very important to him and he was a proud district officer and charter member of the Girdwood Lions Club. He treasured special friends through Lions as well as through the Chaine des Rotisseurs. He was very proud of his service in the Army with time served in Korea, U.S. Army Intelligence in North Carolina and in Hawaii.

John was an excellent hunter/gatherer and loved picking berries and mushrooms, as much as bringing home a sheep, moose, ducks or fish. He loved his super cub and shared hair-raising stories of landing skiers on glaciers and fighting the winds along Turnagain Arm.

He is survived by his wife and partner of 42 years, Kathy Bucy Trautner , and his 5 children. His gruff exterior hid his very generous heart, and it was his kind and thoughtful heart that finally just wore out.

You are invited to join in the celebration of life and potluck on what would have been John’s 87th birthday, December 4, 2022. The event will be held at Our Lady of the Snows and Meadows Community Room. Mass is at 6:00 PM and potluck will begin at 7:00 PM. Come remember this Girdwood Champion and share food and stories with others who loved him.

John Trautner

Holtan Hills:

The land sale/transfer (disposal) of parcels containing “Holtan Hills,” a 60-acre development of CY Investments located in Girdwood, is scheduled for vote at the Anchorage Assembly on December 6, 2022. The regular assembly meeting will begin at 5:00 PM. The public hearing portion is scheduled to begin at 6:00 PM. As of now, the disposal is the 2nd hearing item on the agenda. We encourage all those in the community with an opinion on the matter to come testify in front of Anchorage Assembly decision makers.

Girdwood Inc believes this disposal is relevant, as it represents a large portion of developable lands in Girdwood. As of this time, all lots are set to be market-rate, with no community housing or lots set aside for workforce housing, which we believe is a top priority for our community.

What does GBOS say?

The GBOS subcommittee, Holtan Hills Housing Advisory Committee (HHHAC) on October 24 sent a letter to Girdwood Board of Supervisors stating “In conclusion the HHHAC does not support the Holtan Hills Development in its current form.” After hearing from HHHAC, Girdwood Board of Supervisors passed a Resolution of Support for Revision or Revocation of the Development Agreement between Heritage Land Bank (HLB) and CY Investments to address Girdwood community housing needs.”  The resolution ended with “THEREFORE, GBOS cannot support the disposal of land under the Holtan Hills Development Agreement, to which the Girdwood community has consistently voiced their objection; ALSO, the GBOS and the Holtan Hills Housing Advisory Committee see tremendous value in developing the Holtan Hills lands in a way that benefits the Girdwood community as well as the MOA and requests that the HLB and MOA engage in open dialog to address Girdwood’s concerns and needs.”

Many Girdwood residents testified in opposition to the project at the September Heritage Land Bank Advisory Committee (HLBAC) Public Hearing. On October 27th, despite non-support of the Girdwood community, HLBAC voted in favor of the disposal 5-1, with several suggested amendments to the Development Agreement. The vote was done by private ballot. After an ombudsman complaint was filed for violation of Open Meetings Act, the HLBAC was required to re-vote in November. This time, the item was passed, again with amendments proposed incorporated into the Anchorage Assembly Ordinance with 3 in favor, 1 no, 1 abstention and 2 absent.

Girdwood Board of Supervisors voted to send a formal letter of objection regarding the development agreement on November 21, 2022.

Girdwood Inc agrees with Girdwood Board of Supervisors, which has repeatedly stated identified community concerns regarding the RFP/Holtan Hills Project including process, infrastructure & impact study, indirect link to housing and housing affordability.

To learn more about this project, please visit www.girdwoodinc.org and read Newsletters Issue I-V.  If you have any questions, please email girdwoodinc99587@gmail.com. Also, please keep your eye on Girdwood Inc. Facebook page in the event of changes to the Assembly Meeting Agenda, etc.

Source: 11-4-2022 Assembly Worksession Presentation

Community Spotlight:

The Girdwood Nordic Ski Club (GNSC) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to developing and maintaining a sustainable world-class Nordic/multi-use trail system in the Girdwood Valley, and encouraging responsible use through advocacy, education, and stewardship. The GNSC was founded in 2008, but the proposition of building Nordic ski trails in the Girdwood Valley had been tossed around since the 1960’s. The community of Girdwood even established a cross-country ski trail at one time.  In 1969, Girdwood hosted the Junior Nationals on the Alyeska Racing Trails built by community volunteers, the Anchorage Ski Club, and Army National Guard.  These trails existed for approximately a decade before fading back into the forest.

The Municipality of Anchorage Heritage Land Bank (HLB) commissioned a study in 2006 to determine the feasibility of constructing Nordic ski trails in Girdwood. That study was completed by The Boutet Company in 2007. After positive results of the study, neither The Alyeska Resort, Anchorage Parks and Recreation, nor the Girdwood Trails Committee had interest in becoming the operator of a new trails system. After researching successful models of Nordic clubs throughout Alaska and Pacific Northwest, the Girdwood Nordic Ski Club (GNSC) was formed.

Since the 5K Nordic Loop’s opening in 2012, the Girdwood Nordic Ski Club has operated and maintained the trail system with user-based donations. With a growing annual membership of approximately 600 people, and a solid group of volunteer groomers, the GNSC has created more user days on Girdwood’s winter trail system. They have hosted both the UAA and APU ski teams for ski races, hosted local ski and snow bikes races, Girdwood Marathon, middle school cross-country running races, high school Nordic sprint races and more. The 5K trail is used year-round, and has become a favorite place to pick blueberries, mountain bike (thanks to new trails from Bikewood) and guided mushroom walks during the annual Fungus Fair.

New this year:  The Alyeska Resort will have cross country skis to rent and the Alyeska Ski Shop is also offering waxing for both alpine and cross country skis.  This is a great resource for visitors and will answer the number one question the GNSC receives, ”Where do I rent skis?” The number two question we receive, “Where can I get lessons?”  Lessons will be offered by both Four Valley Community School (FVCS) and Alyeska Resort this winter.   

This is the 10 year anniversary of the 5K Loop, and with the help of local businesses, the GNSC  will be celebrating the returning light and all things Solstice on Wednesday, December 21st from 6pm to 8pm.  There will be drinks and treats from The Bake Shop, colorful moose swag for sale, and a lighted loop to enjoy with your family. 

The GNSC will also be at the Girdwood Holiday Bazaar on Saturday December 10th from 12pm to 4pm at the Girdwood School Gym.  If you haven’t been to this event, you are missing out!  The food, artwork, and crafts for sale are as “local” as local can get.  You can sign up for your 2023 membership, and check out our latest shirts and hats. You can also renew your membership online at: https://skigirdwood.org/join/

Until next time!