Girdwood Plans for the Future – Issue XI

Welcome to issue eleven of Girdwood Inc.’s newsletter. Planning in Girdwood is really ramping up and the output of the planning is being shared with the community. This newsletter hopes to summarize the events which have occurred and direct you to resources for more information.

Alyeska Open House

Alyeska Resort held an open house the evening of September 21st. At the Sitzmark, the room filled up with attendees interested to hear about the new development plan being unveiled. Ryan Pomeroy spoke of their future vision for the resort and invited members of their development team to speak. He introduced Chris Cushing of SE Group, who specializes in Mountain Planning. He turned over time to Jeff Korvel of Skylab Architecture, who showed many examples of his work in mountain communities. He then directed attendees to move around and visit the various stations with large posters and presenters. The vision boards included: Alyeska Development, Workforce Housing Community, Recreation Center and Daycare, Glacier Creek Community, Mountain Improvements and Sustainability.

The Alyeska Development station displayed an overview of the entire area showing concept buildings rendered and proposed new parking. The development plan contained 3 distinct areas:

“Alyeska Village” is located near the Nordic Spa on Tract A. This area includes a plaza with public event space, commercial units available to tenants, saleable condominiums, new ski school, a conference center and additional parking. All buildings are sited to be on currently owned Alyeska land, with parking extending onto State land.

“Moose Meadow Community” would be located on Tract B, near Our Lady of the Snows Chapel and the new employee housing building. The area is slated to be workforce housing, park space, mixed use commercial and residential, with an area defined for a Recreation Center, covered hockey rink and the new childcare facility, which will be owned and operated by Little Bears Playhouse. The architect described the design aesthetic for the area as “Frontier Modern.” The childcare facility is furthest along in design and development. Phase I will include components of the above areas.

“Glacier Creek Community” is in an area off the existing resort property on public land and currently managed by Heritage Land Bank. This area is proposed to be residential housing, smaller commercial uses, and a warming hut for winter activities. This area is furthest out for development.

See additional information below.

Imagine! Girdwood Open House

Imagine! Girdwood is the committee spearheading the new Girdwood Area Plan. The current area plan was completed in 1995 and has long needed an update. Huddle AK is the contractor in place to research relevant information, compile public comment and write the draft plan. Two “draft maps” were introduced the evening of October 11 as Scenario A and Scenario B. It has been reiterated that we are not expected to choose one map or the other, but rather comment on things we like or don’t like depicted on the maps. This map is expected to identify areas which the community is in favor of for new development, as well as areas to be preserved as park space, etc.

Comments should be emailed to The due date for comments has been extended to November 5th 2023. View the full presentation clicking here. The next Imagine! Girdwood meetings are scheduled for November 29th and December 20, 2023 at 6 PM. Links to these meetings should be posted at

Holly Spoth-Torres presents to the audience October 11, 2023

Girdwood’s Efforts:

While some believe that Girdwood is resistant to new development, we view the following as examples that Girdwood is demonstrating to be forward-thinking when it comes to new development and housing in Girdwood:

1) Girdwood Comprehensive Plan. As mentioned above, this plan is being written now. The draft is projected to be completed by February 2024.

2) Girdwood Housing and Economic Committee was created after the April 2023 vote, which established this additional service area power under Girdwood Board of Supervisors. Issues being discussed in the Committee, as well as Land Use and GBOS meetings include:

Lowering Costs – Being able to source gravel from Glacier Creek to lower construction costs, instead of importing gravel from Portage, Anchorage or Mat-Su. After moving through Land Use and GBOS, the committee voted to request a scope of work and pursue a feasibility study. There may be additional benefits to mitigate flooding risk. The Girdwood Service Area Manager noted the need for gravel being an essential resource, for local roads maintenance and operations. Extracted material is proposed for use in local Girdwood projects and community needs.

Create RV Parking Location – Using Heritage Land Bank parcel 6-134 for an RV and community river beach park. This parcel is located behind the Library and Fire Station. The vast majority of this parcel is within a floodplain. This could create a Parks and Recreation revenue source, with caretakers on site. Creating a legal and sanitary location which is intended for camping could help alleviate the park-and-ride area currently being utilized. Advocates suggest building a permanent bathroom facility on this parcel prior to any other development.

Assembly Efforts:

Assembly’s new “Anchorage Goes” bond proposal may be helpful with funding a public restroom on the parcel mentioned above. The municipal-wide bond is expected to increase taxes by $2.54 for each $100,000 of assessed taxable property value and will result in up to 30 public restrooms. The public hearing is scheduled for the Regular Assemble Meeting on November 7, 2023. If approved by assembly, the bond proposition will be presented to qualified, registered voters during the Regular Municipal Election in April 2024.

Assembly members Randy Sulte & Meg Zaletel introduced an ordinance to create a new chapter of municipal code in Title 10. It pertains to licensing and regulation of short term rentals operations. Scan the QR code to view the proposed legislation. The public hearing is scheduled for the Regular Assemble Meeting on December 5, 2023.

Additional Info provided by Alyeska Development Team:

Alyeska Village Area

Focus Areas:

  • Connect Resort & Village to Community
  • Bring Saleable Condos to the Village
  • Bring Public Amenities to the Space – this may include potential new grocery store / hardware store but can also be in Workforce Housing Area.
  • Provide New Commercial Opportunities – new commercial space open for public leasing opportunities.
  • Build New Conference Center – focusing on bringing more events to Girdwood.
  • Construct Additional Parking Areas – major focus point of the development, building for future needs.
  • Promote Walkable Village Setting
  • Create New Public Event Space
  • Build an Engaging Skier Village

Workforce Housing Community

Focus Area:

  • Create Sense of Community
  • Bring Workforce Housing to Girdwood – Not only for resort workers but for other businesses in Girdwood.
  • Provide Diverse Rental Housing – studio to townhomes. Trying to promote not only individuals living here but if someone wanted to move in with a family, they could.
  • Create Work-live space for Small Business
  • Provide New Park Space
  • Build New Local Commercial Space – more commercial space available.
  • Construct Recreational Facility
  • Ensure Resilience of Future Housing Need
  • Partner with On-Site Daycare

Recreation Center & Daycare

Focus Areas:

  • Build New Recreation Center – fitness center and pool which would operate similar to other rec facilities in anchorage (open to public).
  • Provide Space for Little Bears Daycare
  • Construct Open Air Ice Rink
  • Include Aquatic Center
  • Build Extensive Fitness Center
  • New Community Rooms Space
  • Additional Playground Area
  • Promote Easy Access to Girdwood Town
  • Build Sense of Community

Glacier Creek Community

Focus Areas:

  • Residential Housing Community
  • New Diverse Housing Stock

We sincerely hope you appreciate our newsletters! Until next time!

Girdwood Inc Newsletter Issue X – Development Projects in Girdwood & more

Welcome to issue ten of Girdwood Inc’s newsletter. In this newsletter, we will cover a variety of projects, new and ongoing. Children are back to school; fall is around the corner and there is much to highlight in the community!

Community Champion: Nico Reijns

Nico Reijns is the Pastor of Girdwood Chapel United Methodist Church. Turnagain Community Services (TCS) is a new sponsored organization of the Girdwood Chapel. Through this organization, they have helped individuals and families with food and housing assistance. Nico Reijns, the pastor at Girdwood Chapel, provided touching examples serving community members in emergency assistance situations. This includes rental assistance, utility bill support, fuel, ways to stay employed, etc. This new organization has incorporated as a non-profit and will foster the efforts of the Girdwood Food Pantry, the Chapel’s Community Garden and provide mutual aid support. Examples of mutual aid include rides to Anchorage for medical appointments, shoveling snow for elders and cooked meals. Heading the Turnagain Community Services organization is Alice Simmons, Betty Charnon and Terry Sherwood.

He said efforts for rental assistance, about $25,000 in the last 18 months, was not from governmental funding but due to philanthropy from the Girdwood community. Helping those in need was made possible by “neighbors wanting to help neighbors.”

“If we are housing insecure, that also means you are food insecure. If we are food insecure, that also means you are housing insecure. They are all connected.” Reijns provided examples of paying for monthly groceries, so an individual was able to cover their rent. “So sometimes, when we can do food assistance, then they can also stay housed.”

When Pastor Reijns came to Girdwood in 2019, the Girdwood Food Pantry served roughly 35 people one time per month and held a community meal. “Of course, COVID hit and as part of that was the huge growth in not only the number we serve, but the geography we serve.” During COVID, the food pantry served individuals from South Anchorage to Hope and Whittier and were in the several hundred visits-per-month range. Today, the food pantry is seeing an average of 180 guest-visits per month. The Girdwood Food Pantry is operated 3 times per month, on the first Sunday of the month and the second and fourth Wednesdays at the Girdwood Chapel.

The community garden at Girdwood Chapel has individual plots and recently built a new green house, made possible by a grant from Kenai Mountain-Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area. Reijns gave a nod of thanks to community member Kevin McDermott for in-kind donated time and labor to complete the structure. The Girdwood Chapel is in the very early stages of looking into doing an updated site master plan for their 2.5 acre lot. In this analysis, they hope to determine the best use of the land given some environmental constraints, as well as proximity to existing and future development. We look forward to seeing what this new organization can do, with Nico Reijns at the helm of Girdwood Chapel. If you are interested in donating toward any of these causes, please visit

Development in Girdwood:

If one drives around Girdwood today, you may notice many examples of projects in different stages of development. One sees homes under various stages of construction, dirt work and even projects coming to a close.

Holtan Hills:

On August 3, 2023, at the Community and Economic Development Committee, Assemblymember Randy Sulte asked of Heritage Land Bank staff, “I’m just curious how to get a little bit more of an updated status of Holton Hills, that we had postponed indefinitely, but I understand it’s coming back, or it might come back before the assembly, just want a little more on that one.” Emma Giboney from HLB provided a background and concluded with, “We don’t have any significant updates about the Holtan Hills portion of that project at this time.” She added, “We have been in preliminary conversations with Pomeroy Lodging. We’re working to identify site constraints, development needs and concept designs that maximize the need for commercial success of the resort, while ensuring the workforce and residential housing needs are met.”

The following day on August 4, 2023, the Assembly held a Work Session re: Heritage Land Bank Annual Workplan, several items pertaining to Girdwood were discussed. Community member Ron Tenny has served on the commission for 6 years and his term is coming to an end. HLB staff stated, “In October, we will have a vacant seat and we will need a new Girdwood representative.” Girdwood is guaranteed 1 seat on the 7-member Heritage Land Bank Advisory Commission.

On August 8, 2023 at the regular assembly meeting, the Anchorage Assembly passed and approved the Heritage Land Bank 2023 Annual Work Program and 2024-2028 five-year Management Plan. The plan had been up for public comment for 45 days and passed at the Heritage Land Bank Advisory Commission (HLBAC). Regarding Holtan Hills, the publicly noticed plan stated: “The Assembly postponed the Holtan Hills disposal indefinitely at the regular Assembly meeting on February 7, 2023.” An amendment was brought forward on the floor by Meg Zaletel to amend the language on the plan to include under “2023 Potential Projects.” The new paragraph was inserted and reads as follows: “Portions of HLB Parcel 6-011, 6-016, 6-017 – Approve of the disposal of portions of these parcels by public-private partnership development agreement with CY Investments, LLC, and land subordination in support of mixed density residential development in Girdwood.” The amendment to include the Holtan Hills disposal in the 2023 work program passed 11-0.

Anchorage Economic Development Corporation (AEDC):

AEDC is one of the Municipality’s active civic organizations. In response to workforce shortages throughout all of Anchorage, AEDC initiated a long-term “Choose Anchorage” effort to make the city more attractive to its workers. They are looking at Business Vitality, Talent, Quality of Place, and Infrastructure. Lack of housing is a focus. Girdwood Inc was asked to fill one of eleven Leadership Committee seats, a position assigned to Board Member John Rense. This initiative may help the city better recognize and address issues that we recognized here in Girdwood. We also consider Girdwood an important “Quality of Place” asset for the Municipality.

Department of Transportation:

The Department of Transportation (DOT) is continuing its long-term assessment of the road from Bird to Anchorage. They are seeking improvements that can enhance safety and better take advantage of the beauty and recreational potential of Turnagain Arm. DOT has also brought in a third-party to look at the various options for the intersection between the Alyeska Highway (road into Girdwood) and the Seward Highway.

Girdwood Workforce Childcare Project:

Girdwood Inc is very excited to announce it has received a new grant of $530,000. This was a competitive grant, made possible by the State of Alaska Childcare Program Office. The planning grant, which includes fees for design, architecture, engineering, consulting and legal fees is another major step forward for Little Bears Playhouse to own and operate a new and safe childcare facility. The project team is anticipating construction to begin in 2025. The future facility will substantially increase capacity, include childcare/classrooms, administrative space, as well as a multipurpose room for indoor play activities and inclement weather. The need for a new childcare space has been an existing issue in Girdwood for a decade or more. Girdwood Inc is excited to be part of the solution for safety reasons, as well as building a strong future for our children and economy.

Community Spotlight:

Girdwood Rotary is holding their first annual Fall Festival on Saturday September 23, from 12-6 PM in Girdwood Town Square. The event includes kid’s games, family photo opportunity, live music and vendors.

Girdwood Rotary is one of the 46,000 rotary clubs world-wide. The international mission statement is: “We provide service to others, promote integrity, and advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace through our fellowship of business, professional, and community leaders.” Regular meetings are open to the public. These meetings are typically held at Alpenglow Coffeehouse at 140 Olympic Mountain Loop on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays each month.

Girdwood Inc Newsletter Issue IX

Welcome to Issue IX of Girdwood Inc’s newsletter. Below you will find summaries and short updates regarding many Girdwood-related topics.

Champion: Terry Sherwood

Terry is a local Girdwood resident of 22 years. She has raised 3 children and is an active participant at Girdwood Chapel. Terry is a retired school teacher, teaching in Anchorage for 17 years and an additional 5 years at Girdwood School. After retiring, Terry worked for Alyeska Ski Club for 8 years.

A key focus for Terry over the past few years has been volunteering for the Girdwood Food Pantry at the chapel. In this role, she has helped to feed many individuals and families struggling to put food on the table. During the pandemic, Terry and the Girdwood Food Pantry helped to feed up to 300 individuals per month. In 2023, these numbers have leveled out and consistently around 175 people, which are supplied with food 3-4 times per month.

Terry enjoys going for hikes, skiing, camping and spending time with family. She does the events timing for Town League and Masters at Alyeska Resort and does seasonal work for Chugach Adventures and Slack Tide Gallery. Girdwood is lucky to have such a dedicated volunteer and community member in Terry Sherwood!

Terry Sherwood

Holtan Hills:

It appears Holtan Hills is being put back on the table in the next few months. At the Anchorage Assembly May 9th meeting, Assembly Resolution 2023-165 passed in the consent agenda. This resolution reappropriates $30,000 from the Real Estate Department, Heritage Land Bank Fund and $30,000 from Assembly Area Wide General Fund, for a total of $60,000, to fund a real estate consultant for Holtan Hills.

Meg Zalatel was the sponsor of the Resolution, co-sponsored with Mayor Bronson. Ms. Zalatel stated that she does not expect the item to come before the assembly until she is back from her leave. Public notice was given that she will be taking medical leave from the Anchorage Assembly May 24 – July 11.

Click to read: Resolution No. AR 2023-165, A Resolution of the Municipality of Anchorage reappropriating a total of $60,000 from Real Estate Department, Heritage Land Bank Fund (221000) and Assembly, Areawide General Fund (101000), all to the Real Estate Department, within respective funds, for a Real Estate Consultant for Holtan Hills, Assembly Vice Chair Zaletel and Mayor Bronson. (Addendum.)

HLB Work Plan:

A substantial amount of land held within the Heritage Land Bank is situated in Girdwood. Traditionally, work plans were adopted on an annual basis, but the last adopted work program passed Heritage Land Bank Advisory Committee and Assembly in 2021. Heritage Land Bank has advertised the 45-day public review process on their website. Public comment is currently open and closes June 9, 2023. HLB staff will be accepting comments sent to We encourage all to review the 2023 Annual Work Program & 2024-2028 Five-Year Management Plan. Click here to be directed to the Public Review Draft. The public hearing for the Work Program is tentatively scheduled for Thursday, June 22, 2023.

New Housing and Economic Development Committee:

As a result of Proposition 7 passing in the Girdwood Valley Service Area, the Girdwood Board of Supervisors has created a 7-member advisory committee for Girdwood Housing and Economic Stability. The following individuals were selected to serve on the committee: Brett Wilbanks, Tim Cabana, Erin Eker, Krystal Hoke, Brooke Lavendar, Thomas Meding and Matt Schechter. The first organizational meeting was held May 31st and intends to meet on a monthly basis.

Airport Development:

A new proposed development is requesting 11 acres of Department of Transportation land at Girdwood airport. The proposed lease is 55 years with an annual rate of $48,830. Per the notice posted on the State of Alaska website: “Authorized uses: Mixed Aeronautical and Non-aeronautical – up to 150 short term lodging units, private aircraft storage, fueling, and maintenance. Ancillary facilities for a winter/summer sports center, fly out base, meeting space, and food and beverage service along with ten 600 square foot residences for employees in the upper two floors of the Ancillary facility.” The developers attended May’s Girdwood Board of Supervisors meeting and Andrew Faulkner and Timothy Treadwell,  President and Vice President of Glacier Valley Lodge, have provided a follow up letter to GBOS (scan QR code to read).

Competing applications or written comments must be received by 4:30 p.m., June 12, 2023, after which the Department will determine whether or not to execute the lease. Comments can be sent to PO Box 196900 Anchorage, AK 99519-6900.

Significant changes at Alyeska:

Alyeska Resort has provided us with some information about their activities.  The resort has recently launched a new Girdwood locals-only club called Club 587. Members will get access to exclusive discounts, special offers, and more. For those interested in joining, registration details can be found on the resort’s website at

The resort has been undergoing several renovation projects. Last May, the hotel’s 8th floor was remodeled to offer guests a Club Floor experience. The newly upgraded destination, called the Black Diamond Club, features a private lounge with curated food and beverage offerings, a dedicated concierge, new in-room amenities, and more. The 8th floor consists of 34 rooms, including a mix of different-sized suites.

In July, a full refresh of the Aurora Bar is planned to begin. Also this summer, the new employee housing building is expected to be completed. The housing project consists of 71 units made up of 1-bedroom and studio apartments for Alyeska resort employees. 

The resort is also preparing to launch the new Veilbreaker Skybridges, expected to begin their first tours this summer. The skybridges will span a combined 600 feet across the Christmas and New Years chutes, offering views of the surrounding mountains. The Alyeska team is working to upgrade the mountain and Resort guest experience and looking forward to a great 2023 summer.

The Roundhouse Museum at Alyeska:

The Roundhouse Museum at Alyeska resumed operations May 29th and will continue through the fall when the tram ceases operation. If you have not visited the Roundhouse previously, you will find gifts, historical artifacts from Girdwood, Alaska, mining, and skiing. You will also find a 3-dimensional topographical display featuring Alyeska Mountain and the surrounding range. Hours of operation are Sunday – Wednesday 10:30 AM – 5:00 PM Thursday – Saturday 10:30 AM – 6:00 PM.

Anchorage Assembly Housing Retreat:

On Friday May 19th, the Anchorage Assembly held an all-day Housing Retreat. Presenters included Nolan Klouda from UAA Center for Economic Development, Mike Robbins from Anchorage Community Development Authority, Kristine Bunnell and Daniel McKenna-Foster from Municipality Long-Range Planning, Tyler Robinson from Cook Inlet Housing Authority and Andre Spinelli of Spinell Homes.

Much of the meeting focused on challenges that developers experience to create new housing. There was a “Vision to Action Facilitated Conversation” which asked the audience and assembly members to suggest new policies to implement. The goal is to hold a “Housing Summit” in the fall to put forward suggested legislation to go into effect. Some interesting details provided by Nolan Klouda included statistics regarding how many houses are built per 1000 people are built. Alaska ranks 45th out of 50. Statewide, the average is 2 units per 1000 people. Anchorage, specifically, builds 1.3 units of housing per 1000 people.

Community Spotlight:

Introducing Turnagain News! “Turnagain News is non-profit, non-partisan, independent multi-media source serving Southcentral Alaska. Our vision is providing a news network that ensures all people have access to trusted news. From local news to in-depth reporting, the Turnagain News will tell stories that otherwise would go untold—connecting and informing our communities on local government while supporting democracy.” You can read published articles and find out more online at

Until next time! Girdwood Inc, Board of Directors

Congratulations Girdwood Graduates! Photo Credit: Julie Martyn
Beautiful Northern Lights were seen late into the spring 2023. Photo Credit: Annjanette Larsen Vainio

Girdwood Inc Issue VIII – Prop 7, Housing Survey, Police Contract & Seward Highway Safety Project

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.


Below you will find the language that is included on the mail-in municipal election ballot due April 4th.


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

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.

Upcoming meetings:

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. 

Girdwood Inc Newsletter Issue VII – Housing Edition

Welcome to Issue VII of Girdwood Inc’s newsletter. With housing as a major need in our community, that will be the main focus of this issue.

Holtan Hills:

On Tuesday February 7th, the Anchorage Assembly voted 7-5 to “indefinitely postpone” the disposal of the 3 large tracts to CY Investments, more commonly referred to as the Holtan Hills Project. The 3 parcels contained a total of 450 acres. Sixty acres would be removed from the 450-acre tracts and the remainder transferred back to Heritage Land Bank.

This decision came after over a hundred Girdwood residents came to testify on December 6th and the December 13th special meeting for continued testimony. It was postponed at the January 10th Assembly meeting to February 7th. The indefinite postponement means the item may not come back before the Assembly body, unless it’s been “substantially changed.”

South Townsite:

Girdwood Community Land Trust has been working to secure South Townsite as a potential location. This is the area near the ballfield, and was once platted out as “the squirrel cages.” Meetings were recently held with the watershed department at the Municipality. The discussions raised serious questions as to if this was a viable location to develop. Due to flood plain constraints, building at the convergence of the two waterways (Glacier Creek & California Creek) may be a cause for concern. Any HUD funding is very difficult, if not impossible for getting grant and financing for flood plain areas. Although there is a section of this parcel outside of the 100- and 500-year floodplain (based on the 2009 FEMA maps), old documents discovered in a Girdwood crawlspace dating to 1969 show the entire south townsite under the flood plain. The municipal hydrologist discussed rivers changing course and direction as a common theme, and this section of land may be safe for the time being, but uncertain in the long term.

2009 FEMA Flood Plain Map Shows “Island” outside of 100-500 year Flood Plain, but all access via Flood Plain

This means that going up valley to higher elevations is the most realistic and plausible location for long-term community expansion. Given this new information, Girdwood Community Land Trust is still interested in pursuing South Townsite as an area for arts, culture, temporary uses (non-permanent structures, such as yurts) and expansion of park areas.

What is next:

Girdwood needs more housing, especially workforce and affordable housing. Girdwood Inc would like to see a plan come forward that can be supported by our community and incorporates needs which have already been identified as well as thinking about growth into the future and appropriate conservation. Girdwood Community Land Trust, as a Girdwood Inc sponsored organization, has already been working on possible housing solutions. A presentation was given at January’s Land Use Meeting and included in the GBOS packet. Girdwood Inc is in support of Girdwood Community Land Trust’s vision of “community-led, community-owned development.”

Girdwood Community Land Trust is planning a Girdwood Housing Solutions Brainstorm and Social on March 11, 2023. The event begins at 6:00 PM in the Girdwood Community Room. Mocktails and appetizers will be provided. More details are available at Those who are interested in providing input, ideas, suggestions or interested in engaging on Girdwood housing matters are encouraged to attend.

Housing Power for Girdwood Valley Service Area (GVSA) Ballot Measure:

We are approaching the April Anchorage municipal election and ballots will be mailed to voters in late March.  This coming election is especially important to Girdwood because there is an initiative to establish a Girdwood Housing Power within the service area. This ballot item will be for Girdwood voters only.

A little background: Girdwood is unique across Anchorage for managing many of our own local services.  This came about because we are so physically separated from the rest of Anchorage.  Under direction of the elected Girdwood Board of Supervisors (GBOS), we have provided our own Fire, Roads, Parks & Recreation services for decades. In 2015, we voted to add a power to allow GVSA tax dollars to be spent on a Cemetery. Additionally, most of us remember the very close local vote in 2016 to provide police as a power of GVSA after the Alaska State Troopers left.

This Girdwood Housing power would be most like our existing Cemetery power. It provides the Girdwood Valley Service Area (GVSA) the ability to apply for grants, accept funds from other parts of the Municipal government, and use local property taxes to develop specific housing policies. For example, GVSA can hire and direct mountain resort housing experts, rather than through a contract written by other Municipal departments such as Planning. It also allows the GVSA to manage Municipal land, in the same way as Girdwood already manages land for its parks, roads and drainage services.

The upcoming 2023 Anchorage Municipal ballot will also have the typical mix of Assembly, School Board and GBOS elections, bond measures (most of which are not paid for by Girdwood property owners), and several ballot measures including a $25,000 increase in residential property tax exemption.  Municipal vote-by-mail ballots will appear in our PO Boxes in late March.