Proposition seeks to create Chugach State Park Access Service Area

Proposition seeks to create Chugach State Park Access Service Area
Published: Mar. 16, 2023 at 10:53 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - One of the propositions on the ballot in this year’s municipal election could lead to park improvements in the Chugach State Park and the roads that lead to it.

Prop. 6 on the Anchorage ballot for the April 4 municipal election will ask voters whether they support the creation of the Chugach State Park Access Service Area. While taxes will not be immediately placed upon Anchorage residents, the proposition would create an opportunity for residents in the bowl area to vote on future projects concerning roads and parking options leading to the Chugach State Park, for which those residents would be taxed.

Roger Marks, who serves on the board of the road service area near the park, said that some neighborhood roads leading to the park are used more frequently by people heading to the park than people living in the adjacent neighborhoods. Marks says that this proposition would, “create a matching between who uses the road and who pays for the road.”

“If this passes in April, all it would do is create the service area,” Marks said. “It wouldn’t result in any new tax increases, but in the future, if it’s created, there could be proposition packages for road improvements up here and then only the people that live in the Anchorage Bowl would pay for it.”

According to the municipal clerk’s office, as many as 1.5 million people visit the park annually, with most of the roads leading to the park’s access areas going through neighborhoods.

Some of the roads leading to the park are illegal to park on. However, with many of the Chugach Park parking lots snowed in, visitors don’t have many other viable options.

When asked about why the state of Alaska was not paying for the park, Marks said that “the original plan was the state to pay for this and, you know, the state has a lot of budget needs and for one reason or another, this has not been a priority of the state over time.”

A management plan for the Chugach State Park from 2016 in a section dedicated to funding shortfalls says the park has become reliant on volunteers and grant funding, and that the number of park rangers has fallen from 13 to four.

In the plan, the section underneath funding in deferred maintenance says that “Chugach State Park has the largest deferred maintenance backlog of any single park within the Division (of Parks and Outdoor Recreation) with approximately $7 million needed to address facility upkeep.”