It has been awhile since I’ve written about Mt. View here! I’ve had an event-filled summer including travelling for a whole month. I reconnected with some old friends from the 1980s, and really didn’t think about Mt. View most of the time. Still, there’s a lot going on — so will try, in a lame/half-assed way to tell…
Street Fair. A really ambitious, volunteer-fueled family fun event was pulled off on an intermittently sunny Saturday afternoon August 8th. Months of intensive planning sessions by local stakeholders and businesses, including Credit Union 1, the Anchorage Community Land Trust and many others resulted in an action-packed day. It was very well-attended [jammed, really] and showcased Mt. View’s diversity. Hope it’s the first of what will be an annual festivity. [More photos.]
MTS Gallery and Trailer Art Center. Mt. View’s expanding arts immersion facility soldiered on this summer with some truly groundbreaking works — including the critically acclaimed ‘367 lbs. of wax‘ by Steph Kese and Erin Pollock; a Bunnell St. Arts Center-curated group invitational show on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill; and a moody, well-crafted performance piece where we bid farewell to performance art producer Ruby Kennell [hoping, as always with straying friends for her eventual safe return to Alaska]. The current exhibit, Le Roman du Lievre: Marginalia, a creation of James Riordan [with a little help from his friends] opened Sept. 18th. A rotating exhibit of student artwork from Anchorage schools was launched in the lobby space right behind the MTS Gallery. Meanwhile, Trailer Art Center is exploring possibilities for a more modest expansion of its facility and programs, maybe involving moving to a different location [but still in Mt. View], while continuing to scheme with its funders, backers and members about how to build the center they really want. MTS Gallery is located at 3142 Mt. View Dr., open Sat. and Sun. noon to 4:00 and Wed. 5:00–8:00 PM.
Clark Middle School. The contractors doubled down and finished the gleaming new school in time for the beginning of the school year last month. The 7th and 8th graders in the school’s attendance district have been distributed amongst four other Anchorage middle schools for two years while the old school was completely demolished and the new one built on the same site at the SW corner of Mt. View Dr. and Bragaw St. No word yet whether or not the ghost moved into the new school.
Mt. View Branch Library. The new library with attached community meeting room is under construction at the corner of the school site. The building was built as a library in 1967, replacing a former branch library nearby but was closed in 1987 by former Anchorage mayor Tom Fink. New Anchorage mayor Dan Sullivan is of a similar mindset to Fink, and so the library system is again on hard times — so it’s looking like when the new Mt. View branch opens it will be staffed by one single paid employee and operate very limited hours. Well, I hope the librarian still enjoys the work, and the library will turn into a well-loved neighborhood destination and resource.
Credit Union 1 branch. On the opposite [NE] corner of Bragaw St. and Mt. View Dr. construction continues on Credit Union 1’s Mt. View location. Underground utility and foundation work are complete and we expect to see the building coming up very soon.
Demolition and vacancy. Teardowns continue along Mt. View Dr. and intermittently within the residential part of the neighborhood. There is more vacant commercial property here than at any time in the last few decades. Many of the buildings still extant are marginally occupied. A wholesale reinvention of the commercial strip seems less likely than ever. In the industrial district in the SW part of Mt. View, vacancy rates are creeping back up. The newly finished Glenn Square Mall is only about 1/3 full, its prospects not looking well.
Crime and punishment. A new web-based crime map of Anchorage shows major police calls grouped by type and and pinned to a map with summary info. I was delighted the other day when I looked at this and it showed zero activity in Mt. View [however temporarily]. Naturally, there’s still a great deal of misinformation out there about the level of crime in Mt. View compared to other parts of Anchorage, as a casual web search will reveal.
Community gardens. I haven’t paid a lot of attention to these in the past, but I have noted they are really popular and well-utilized. They’re located in the back of the neighborhood, north of McPhee Ave. There’s a fascinating third world ambience there, with individual plots fenced off with rough branches, construction fencing, wire and twine, visqueen, scrap lumber, bed springs, oven racks, etc. The gardeners get a lot of use of the plants, even harvesting the stalks of lettuce gone to seed. There are three large new community garden plots near the SE corner of Bragaw and the Glenn Highway, built as part of the interchange project. I’ll bet those will be full next year.
Highway interchange project. Work is nearly complete on the $30 million state funded reconstruction of the corner of Bragaw Street and the Glenn Highway. A lingering issue of funding for surveillance cameras in the pedestrian tunnel was finally solved. The traffic lanes have been open for a year, but landscaping work continued this summer. Some residents have said that the artwork component didn’t meet expectations, but all in all it has enhanced the entrance into Mt. View, especially in terms of pedestrian safety.
Cook Inlet Housing Authority. CIHA continues its housing projects neighborhood-wide. They have also purchased a property at the SE corner of Mt. View Dr. and Park St., across from their $10 million residential-commercial building and demolished an abandoned gas station on the site. I am guessing they are planning another multifamily dwelling of some sort on this lot. It is a beautiful site with a territorial view [as the real estate people say] of the Chugach mountains. Last November, I emailed a series of questions to Carol Gore, CEO of CIHA and I want to publish her answers here — however, she’s been reluctant to respond. Since I have been intensely critical at times of CIHA’s efforts over the years, she probably wants to avoid controversy. Too bad! She has said some really nice words about Trailer Art Center’s drive to build an arts center in Mt. View. I hope she will reconsider at some point!
Mt. View Community Council. At the most recent meeting the current slate of four C.C. officers were elected for another one year term. It is President Don Crandall’s third [or fourth? I can’t recall] year-long term. Crandall has a nurturing, concensus-building style. The meetings the last few months haven’t been as well-attended as in past years. That’s a good news-bad news scenario — the bad part is people are apathetic. The good aspect may be that, since the C.C. is much of the time a sounding board for problems and controversy, maybe the neighborhood is relatively trouble free these days? I kidded with Crandall that the C.C. has ‘jumped the shark’. The C.C. meets the second Monday of each month at 7:00 PM in the basement of the Mt. View Community Center at 315 Price St.
Beach Boys. There has been a bowling alley in Mt. View for many years, hidden in a low-lying property backed up to the north side of the Glenn Highway and accessed from Park St. via Mt. View Dr. The bowling alley had been on hard times in recent years, but experienced a little bump a couple years ago when some bowling leagues returned to play there after the closure of the nearest competing bowling alley in Muldoon. This summer, a new group of owners made quite a splash by holding an unannounced Beach Boys concert in the bowling alley parking lot Aug. 31st. The Beach Boys also played the State Fair that week.
I’m going to be writing a lot here about the Highway to Highway project in upcoming months. I think this project represents the biggest current threat to life as we know it in Anchorage. More on this soon.