The local daily paper reports today that the new representative for Mt View, Government Hill and Downtown will be continuing his predecessor‘s penchant for blogging. One of the first items of interest Assemblymember Flynn reports on is the fate of the former Alaska Native Hospital site, on East 3rd Avenue in Fairview. The north end of the site experienced quite a bit of subsidence of its bluff during the 1964 earthquake but the old hospital building was only minimally damaged and remained in service until completion of the replacement hospital in 1997. Today the site is in inventory of the Municipality’s Heritage Land Bank, the people who facilitated the new Glenn Square Mall and many other beloved local landmarks. Flynn’s post goes on to explain:
“…[HLB], which manages land owned by the city, proposed rezoning to I-2, Industrial, in order to allow the site to be used as a staging area for private projects, something that would not be legal today.
“A few weeks ago I spoke with the HLB Executive Director, Bill Mehner (e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org) and he mentioned the proposed rezone. Since then I’ve heard from some neighbors concerned about the project and asked Bill to provide more details. Here’s what he wrote in an e-mail to me:
“. . . I might add that our application does also recommend at least a 30 foot buffer on the South and West sides of the property and we certainly have no desire to put a waste treatment or junk yard on this vacant land. There is no redevelopment plan calling for major construction on this site which has geotechnical challenges and continues to be monitored by EPA for contaminants.”
This is the same sort of propaganda used to justify Glenn Square, and I hope Fairview will parse it very carefully.
Soils contamination on the site is a separate issue, and shouldn’t be used to obfuscate the larger issues of land use planning and compatibility with the surrounding neighborhood. HLB is trying to make a construction yard seem like a good deal for Fairview. You know, compared to what they could get if the land were ‘sold to the highest bidder’. A key part of Mehner’s argument is that a construction yard isn’t the same as a junkyard. It might be just as dusty, unsightly and incompatible but there are important differences!
Update 7/2/08: Pat Flynn and ADN reported recently that MOA backed off its attempt to rezone the property indefinitely, in response to an outcry from residents of the area. Good news!