Greetings! Welcome to issue VIII of the Girdwood Inc newsletter! We will cover topics such as the exact language in Girdwood-specific proposition 7, an online survey for housing types supported by the community, an update from Girdwood’s Public Safety Advisory Committee, Department of Transportation’s new project to improve safety on the Seward Highway and information regarding upcoming meet and greet with Anchorage Public Library’s new director Virginia McClure.
PROPOSITION NO. 7
Below you will find the language that is included on the mail-in municipal election ballot due April 4th.
GIRDWOOD VALLEY SERVICE AREA LOCAL HOUSING AND ECONOMIC STABILITY POWER
This proposition would add to the existing powers of the Girdwood Valley Service Area the power to provide services in support of policies that promote local housing and economic stability. This proposition would not authorize the Girdwood Valley Service Area to levy any additional taxes. Exercise of this new power, if approved, would be paid for by taxes levied under the service area’s current maximum mill rate of 6.0 mills.
Shall this new power be added to the existing powers of the Girdwood Valley Service Area? (AO 2022-118, As Amended) Yes Or No.
Looking for housing feedback:
Girdwood Community Land Trust held a Housing Social at the community room on March 11th. They registered participants and gave them sticky notes to attach to posters of various housing types that the individual would personally support.
Girdwood CLT has created an online version to get as much input as possible. Please take a moment to CLICK HERE and provide your feedback. The results will be shared publicly after April 12th on their website and Facebook page. Thank you!
Community Spotlight: Public Safety Advisory Committee, Authors: Amanda Sassi, Emily Lewis
Here in Girdwood, public safety is overseen by the Public Safety Advisory Committee. This committee was formed in 2016, with the initial purpose of helping to find the best way to police our community after the Alaska State Troopers left their Girdwood post. The public voted to partner with the Whittier Police Department (WPD), and we signed our first contract for their services.
When that contract expired at the end of 2022, Girdwood Valley Service Area Manager Kyle Kelley and City of Whittier administration worked in conjunction with the Public Safety Advisory Committee to update the contract. A new three-year contract was signed at the end of December by the Municipality of Anchorage (MoA) and the City of Whittier, with an option for two one-year extensions, if agreed upon by both parties at that time.
Our newest member of the Girdwood Public Safety Advisory Committee, Emily Lewis, recently had the opportunity to ride along with one of our Whittier Police officers for an afternoon.
“After getting to spend some time learning about all that policing our community entails, I feel really grateful for our partnership with the Whittier Police Department. Even though Girdwood isn’t the primary residence of most officers, because they spend so much time here, they’re a part of our community and really care about helping to keep us all safe,” said Lewis.
Officers spoke of embracing a community policing model, and shared that they are seeking engagement and participation from the community.
“People often assume that we know something that’s happening in town or residents’ general safety concerns because they were posted on the Girdwood Facebook page, but we don’t monitor Facebook. If there’s anything happening that we should know about, we need people to call it in,” said Officer Hager, who’s been with the WPD since 2014. Residents are encouraged to call 911 or the WPD Non-Emergency Line, 907-382-3223, and to be prepared with detailed descriptions.
“If you see or hear something unusual, call it in. Even if you don’t think a police response is required, they would rather have it on their radar so they’re ready to respond at a later time if needed,” said Lewis.
Dispatch for the WPD is based in Sitka. This recent change came after WPD’s contract with Cordova Police Department for dispatch services expired. A request for proposal was issued for dispatching service and three bids came back. Cordova asked for a substantial increase and Sitka ultimately won the bid. So far, officers have reported a high level of responsiveness from Sitka’s dispatch service, as well as a solid familiarity with the layout of Girdwood, the Seward Highway, and Turnagain Arm communities.
As in the past, any 911 calls placed from the Girdwood valley go first to the Anchorage Police Department dispatch. When you state that you’re needing police assistance in Girdwood, you’ll be patched through to Sitka dispatch, which can then dispatch the Whittier Police Department.
In other public safety related news, Girdwood Valley Service Area Manager Kyle Kelley is working with the Department of Transportation to obtain mobile speed radar signs for use along the Alyeska Highway, hopefully by this summer. The Department of Transportation will also be doing a traffic study sometime in 2023 on the Girdwood roads that tend to see the most speeding.
The Public Safety Advisory Committee’s purpose is to serve as a conduit between the community and law enforcement. Residents are encouraged to share any public safety-related concerns at the committee’s monthly meetings. Public comment can be offered in person, called in, or given virtually. Meetings are typically held at 7pm on the first Monday of each month in the Community Room. Details can be found on the Girdwood Board of Supervisors homepage.
Department of Transportation’s Project: Safer Seward Highway
Governor Dunlevy recently declared the Seward Highway a priority for safety improvements. The focus will be on the stretch from the end of the divided highway near Bird, to Potters Marsh. This current “safety corridor” is critical because it has a very high rate of accidents and related casualties. This new project is called “Safer Seward Highway” and has a website set up at safersewardhighway.com.
Most important, now is the time for people to get involved and give input on how they think the project should be done. The goal is an outstanding highway corridor that improves safety while providing important recreation and use features such as a bike corridor, wildlife and scenic viewing, and more trailhead and viewpoint parking.
The Department of Transportation is drawing together a team of experts from all over the state to explore new design concepts such as tunnels that might have been previously dismissed. This team has been tasked with looking at various design options to improve highway safety, including dividing the north & southbound sections, adding lanes and especially designing a highway that includes many critical recreational and scenic enhancements. They also must consider the substantial increases in traffic that are forecast well into the future. We will continue to keep Girdwood informed about this important project.
Library Director Meet and Greet
When: Friday, April 14, 2023, 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM
Where: Scott and Wesley Gerrish (Girdwood) Library
Anchorage Public Library’s new director Virginia McClure is coming to Girdwood! Join her and get to know what your library has in store for you and your community.