Girdwood residents numbered over 100 at the Anchorage Assembly meeting of December 6th. This was despite the blizzard occurring outside and what would become the beginning of 3 storms nicknamed “Snowmageddon.” The range of testifiers spanned a vast demographic from young adults to retirees, service workers to credentialed professionals. The vast majority spoke in favor of development but voiced unease that the Holtan Hills project, as currently envisioned, would help the Girdwood housing crisis. Many residents held signs that said, “Listen to Girdwood” and “Public land should equal public benefit.” The testimony went late into the evening and was postponed to a special meeting regarding this agenda item only.
Just five days prior to the December 6th public hearing, a new substitute version (or S-version) was put forward for the ordinance, which outlines the disposal of the 3 large tracts. The most substantial change was an addition of a lot to be reserved for Girdwood. It reads, “One multi-family lot to be drawn from HLB’s portion of profits will be designated for future disposal to a Girdwood housing authority, if and only if a housing authority entity is established which can legally receive and own property, and if and only if the housing authority is established within five years of this disposal. Otherwise, the multi-family lot reverts to Heritage Land Bank ownership.” It is important to note that Girdwood does not have a Housing Authority, nor does the Municipality of Anchorage have one.
At the special meeting held December 13th, hours of testimony continued to express concerns about the project. Examples included questions regarding the fiscal burden the municipality is taking on via the joint venture, developers competing against the municipality, process missteps, lack of affordable housing and proper planning, among others. The meeting went nearly 4 hours long and once again, not even historic snowfall occurring outside would stop Girdwood residents from coming to testify.
In final comments of the Special Meeting Assemblymember Forrest Dunbar stated, “I want to thank the folks that testified today and earlier. Despite the obvious passion that people brought, it was incredibly respectful and substantive public testimony. One of the best I’ve encountered on this body and in almost seven years. I really appreciate the specifics that a number of folks in the community came forward with.” Dunbar has since resigned from the Anchorage Assembly and is now representing District J, East Anchorage in the State Senate. He has since been replaced by Assemblymember Joey Sweet.
On December 20th, a new substitute S-1 version was introduced by Assemblymember Meg Zaletel. In reference to the community lot (1 lot out of 52 lots), the ordinance had been amended to: “At least one multi-family lot for the development of at least 8 units to be drawn from HLB’s portion of profits will be designated for future disposal to a Girdwood housing trust or non-profit entity for the purposes of developing community housing for residents, if and only if a housing trust or entity is established which can legally receive and own property, and if and only if the housing trust or entity is established within five years of the recording of the plat for Phase I of Holtan Hills Subdivision entitlements being complete on the parcels. Otherwise, the multi-family lot reverts to Heritage Land Bank ownership;”
Anchorage Assemblymembers came to Girdwood for an in-person and hybrid worksession held at the Gerrish Library Community Room on January 6th. Girdwood Board of Supervisors Mike Edgington and Jennifer Wingard explained the concerns regarding the project, disposal, and the S-1. Emma Kramer represented the Holtan Hills Housing Advisory Committee. Ms. Zaletel asked questions about the community lot to Adam Trombley, Mayor Bronson’s Chief of Staff and lead for the Holtan Hills project. It was clarified that the community lot would only be transferred to a local entity if Phase I produced a profit and not until all other lots had been sold. Chris Constant encouraged the transfer to be noted on the title, rather than only in the ordinance. Even though no participation from the public was allowed at the worksession, many Girdwood residents attended and listened in on the discussion.
At the January 10th Assembly Meeting, the agenda item was postponed until February 7th. This meeting marked Assemblymember Jamie Allard’s last meeting, as she moves to represent District 23 Eagle River in the State House. Her seat has since been filled by Assemblymember Robin Dern.
On January 16th, Girdwood Board of Supervisors passed a Resolution stating “WHEREAS, in its current unamended form GBOS determined by a vote of 5-0 that the S-1 does not provide adequate guarantees that the core needs for community housing in Girdwood will be advanced by this project;” and requested the disposal “be postponed until adoption of the 2023 updated Girdwood Area Plan.”
With two new Assemblymembers becoming appointed in the last month, we encourage those to reach out to Mr. Joey Sweet and Ms. Robin Dern, who may have missed out on hearing the Girdwood community testify, or previous emails sent out.
Girdwood Inc continues to follow this historic land disposal and will continue to provide updates, summaries, and links to more information on our website. Additional links and videos below.
January 6, 2023 – Worksession No. 3 re Holtan Hills, AO 2022-103 Competitive Disposal of HLB Parcels to CY Investments
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.
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.
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 email@example.com. Also, please keep your eye on Girdwood Inc. Facebook page in the event of changes to the Assembly Meeting Agenda, etc.
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/
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com 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 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Little Bears Playhouse: PO Box 350 Girdwood, AK 99587 email@example.com
Attend HLB Meeting Online: (MUST SIGN UP IN ADVANCE TO SPEAK BEFORE 9/21/2022 AT 5:00 PM – SEE DETAILS ABOVE)
Thank your for taking the time to read our fourth issue of Girdwood Inc’s newsletter! Girdwood Inc’s mission is to be “Girdwood’s partner in funding and leadership,” and has done so since 2004. For example, in late May, Girdwood Inc. in collaboration with Little Bears Playhouse, submitted an American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) grant request to help fund a new childcare facility. If you would like to voice your support for the Girdwood Workforce Childcare Project request, please email assembly members at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A new era in Girdwood healthcare is coming to our community. In late June, the old Girdwood Health Clinic building consisting of the 1960s Girdwood post office and mobile trailers were demolished. Just a few days prior, clinic workers made the move to the new facility. The demoed materials are gone, and the second phase of the new clinic building is underway. Once completed, the facility will have over 7000 SF including 6 exam/treatment rooms, behavioral health space, meeting space, clinician workspace, a lab, a contagion-confined exam room and an x-ray room. The new building provides a prominent feature in Town Square and a permanent space for decades to come. Having a skilled staff and excellent facility, the Girdwood Health Clinic offers far more to family medicine than just emergency drop-in service, including a sliding fee discount program for patients with financial hardship. The clinic is currently looking to hire medical assistants. Those interested in future employment should check the website regularly for details and updates. (www.girdwoodhealthclinic.org)
Leading the charge at Girdwood Health Clinic as the Chief Medical Officer is Dr. Erin Lester, a full time Girdwood resident. Erin is married to Paul Forward, a fellow doctor and lead guide at Chugach Powder Guides. They have lived in Girdwood off-and-on for the last 9 years and became full time residents in 2017. Together they have a young toddler and are so happy to be raising him in Girdwood.
Erin has worked at Girdwood Health Clinic for the past 5 years. She has an undergraduate degree in Neuroscience from Washington State University and attended University of Washington School of Medicine through the Alaska WWAMI program. Erin then completed the Alaska Family Medicine Residency program. Prior to her work at the Girdwood Health Clinic, she practiced in Kodiak and at Anchorage Neighborhood Health Center.
We at Girdwood Inc look forward to seeing the clinic flourish with expanded space and staffing.
Significant movement has occurred on Holtan Hills since our last newsletter. Many individuals and business owners sent letters to Heritage Land Bank (HLB) and Girdwood Board of Supervisors (GBOS) requesting to include workforce housing as part of the project or suggested cancellation. The Girdwood Chamber of Commerce’s draft resolution passed at the June 13th Land Use Committee meeting 42 to 1. This resolution required that the current plan be amended to include workforce housing or should be terminated. The following week at GBOS, it was suggested that the resolution be postponed to re-word language in the offered resolution.
On June 14th, a joint Land Use Committee (LUC) and GBOS Town Hall was held, which focused entirely on Holtan Hills. This meeting was very well attended, with roughly 70 members in the community room and another 75+ online. The pre-publishing of the development agreement on the Girdwood Board of Supervisors website May 24th resulted in detailed questions from the public and many comments that called for workforce and affordability to be part of the development of Holtan Hills.
During the Town Hall, Connie Yoshimura discussed “more affordable condo units” to be included. The proposed units are three 8-plex buildings and would be part of Phase I. A member of the public asked what the price point would be for the 2-bedroom 900-1000 SF units and Yoshimura suggested $500,000 as the entry level price. When pressed on the price of the 6000-7000 square foot smallest lots, a price tag of $140,000-150,000 was given. There are 10 of these sized lots in Phase I. The developer and HLB suggested they work with 5 Girdwood residents on a working group. GBOS produced a letter which was sent to HLB and the administration, listing themes of various concerns raised at the GBOS/LUC Town Hall.
If workforce housing is included in the Holtan Hills project, at least a percentage of the land should require that properties are purchased with short term rental restrictions in the deed, so those who do choose to rent out their unit will do so on an extended basis. This is the only way housing sales can benefit most of Girdwood’s needed workforce. There is also a demand for apartments. Up to this point, the Holtan Hills project does not address either of these issues.
On June 23rd, HLB held their first meeting since March. Many Girdwood residents registered to speak during the public comment period. HLB Commissioners heard various concerns, demands and expectations. Ron Tenny, HLB Girdwood Representative, again expressed frustration that he was learning details of the development at the same time as the general public, including reviewing the development agreement. Brooks Chandler stated that “disposals are done by elected officials, not HLB staff.” HLB staff indicated they are planning for an August disposal and October sale. HLB Commissioner Brett Wilbanks, a Girdwood resident, requested an HLB work session be held on Holtan Hills.
On July 5th, GBOS formally created the Holtan Hills Housing Advisory Board. It was expanded to 7 members. The nominated members include: Dave Hamre, Nico Reijns, Emma Kramer, Erin Eker, Sam Daniel, Brooke Lavendar and Nathen Ellis. They have held two meetings thus far, with the next meeting scheduled for August 2, 2022 at 4:00 PM in the community room. Written comments will be directed to this committee by emailing email@example.com.
On July 18th, Girdwood Board of Supervisors passed the Chamber’s rewritten Resolution in Support for Amendment of the Development Agreement between Heritage Land Bank and CY Investments to Address Girdwood Community Housing Needs. The primary difference between the community-approved resolution, and the GBOS resolution, was the removal of the call for canceling the Development Agreement, should changes not be made.
Private residents asked Girdwood Inc to provide a summary and timeline of events regarding the RFP and the current Holtan Hills project. As a result of that request, a summary is posted on our website. Additionally, concerned citizens organized signs to raise awareness regarding the Holtan Hills project. Those organizing the sign effort ask that you email firstname.lastname@example.org, if interested in placing a sign on your property. If you are interested in donating toward the cost of the signs go to: https://gofund.me/39faa48e
An Assembly Member Listening Session sponsored by Girdwood Inc and Girdwood Chamber of Commerce was held on July 19th in the community room. The hybrid meeting had roughly 150 participants. Randy Sulte attended in person and Suzanne LaFrance had her aide listening in, as she didn’t have the cell service she expected to attend remotely. Speakers included a welcome by Dale Goodwin of Girdwood Inc, Lynne’ Doran of Girdwood Chamber of Commerce, Kathy Trautner of Girdwood Health Clinic, Camille Jones of Little Bears Playhouse, Terry Sherwood of Girdwood Chapel/Food Pantry, Michelle Weston of Girdwood Fire Department, Emma Kramer and Brooke Lavendar of Holtan Hills Housing Advisory Committee. Many questions generated by members of the public will be forwarded to Heritage Land Bank, Assembly Members, Holtan Hills Advisory Committee and other relevant administration leaders.
The next Heritage Land Bank Advisory Commission Meeting will be held Thursday, July 28, 2022 at 11:30 a.m. at the Permit & Development Center (conference room 170 – 4700 Elmore Road, Anchorage, Alaska) or via Microsoft Teams and telephonic hearing (907) 519-0237 Conference ID 870 029 831#. An update from HLB and Connie Yoshimura is on the agenda.
Winner Creek Bridge Update:
Girdwood Inc. advocates important highway, infrastructure, recreation and other projects. We are pleased to announce the Alaska legislature this session funded $1.2 million for replacement of the Winner Creek hand tram with a state-of-the-art suspension bridge. The replacement bridge, a Girdwood Inc priority, is part of the broader “Alaska Long Trail Project.” Girdwood Valley Service Area is expected to receive funds for construction and work to be done in 2023. We thank the legislature for this funding, with special Girdwood kudos to Representative James Kaufman, Senator von Imhof and Friends of Girdwood Trails, a Girdwood Inc sponsored organization. After completion, the Forest Service will service and maintain stewardship of the bridge.
Seward Highway Safety Projects:
Department of Transportation engineers recently met with Girdwood Inc to discuss improving the intersection at Alyeska and Seward Highway. As one example, the left turn by the gas station is problematic. With Seward Highway traffic expected to increase 5-7% each year for the next 5 years, Girdwood Inc believes we should support forward-thinking changes that will improve safety before the issues become worse. It takes years to make changes to transportation corridors. Still in a planning stage, we appreciate DOT’s outreach. They held meetings with Old Girdwood residents and are hosting a public meeting on Wednesday July 27th at 6:00 – 7:30 PM in the Girdwood community room.
Other priorities include improvements to the Seward Highway between Bird and Potter Marsh. The Governor’s proposed funding for these improvements has been approved by the legislature. This project is envisioned to include a separated bike lane all the way from Bird to Potter. When done, we will have a bike path all the way to Anchorage. Girdwood Inc advocates advancing the project ASAP since highway users are already adjusting to disruptions caused by important rock fall improvements.
Girdwood Community Land Trust:
One of Girdwood Community Land Trust’s (GCLT) main goals is to increase opportunities for Girdwood’s workforce with attainable housing options, which include the chance for ownership. Other resort communities have similar programs and have helped to mitigate some pressure from high market demand in these areas. There are over 200 CLTs in the nation and are increasing in popularity as a mechanism to solve housing and land-use issues. We at Girdwood Inc are excited about the opportunity to have our own Community Land Trust here at home and a passionate board involved in these efforts. Last month, GCLT obtained their own 501(c)3 status, after being a Girdwood Inc sponsored organization since late 2020. This is another example of how Girdwood Inc fosters up-and-coming endeavors to grow and flourish.
Community Land Trusts (CLT) have roots in the civil rights movement and have a unique structure with a “tripartite” board. It is created by 1/3 tenants, 1/3 community members (Girdwood area) and 1/3 elected officials, non-profit leaders or subject area experts.
Girdwood Community Land Trust has spearheaded several resolutions for additional recycling options and zoning (Jan/Feb 2021), Girdwood Community Garden location and zoning on public land (June/July 2021), and obtained a Resolution of Support for Grants and Funding (Nov. 2021) from LUC & GBOS. Girdwood CLT’s 9-member board helped to kick-start last year’s farmers market and are the primary vendor organizer for this year’s Girdwood Farmers Market, which occurs every other Sunday in Town Square. The markets encourage positive economic development for small businesses to sell their goods, encourage access to healthy organic foods and a stage for musicians to share their talents. (Upcoming Dates: July 24, August 7, August 24)
Girdwood Community Land Trust board members realize that they will not be able to solve Girdwood’s housing issues by themselves but feels strongly that local-land management is a key part of the solution. Learn more and become a member at www.girdwoodlandtrust.org to support these efforts.
Thank you for attending our Summer Solstice Dance Party Fundraiser!
We are inviting you to a Girdwood Assembly Member Listening Session scheduled for Tuesday July 19that 7:00 PM in the community room. This event is hosted by Girdwood, Inc. and Girdwood Chamber of Commerce. Please join us for this important discussion with Randy Sulte and Suzanne LaFrance.