Category Archives: clark middle school

street fair june 26th!

Last year’s Street Fair [Aug. 8, 2009] was an overwhelming success, thanks to a great volunteer planning committee and help from sponsors.  This year, a larger venue and an earlier summer date.  Quite a task to plan and execute an event this large — should pay off in great experiences for all participants.

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big fall update

Alley near Mt. View Dr. and Klevin St.

Alley near Mt. View Dr. and Klevin St.

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.

Trompe LOeil by Behind the 8 Ball Enterprises, from Spill -- Alaskan Artists Remember.

'Trompe L'Oeil' by Behind the 8 Ball Enterprises, from Spill -- Alaskan Artists Remember.

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 at the end of the growing season, McPhee Ave.

Community gardens at the end of the growing season, McPhee Ave.

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.

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clark middle school rises

Wow! Our brand new $66 million middle school is coming out of the ground and looking wonderful! I can’t believe how great this project is for the community. It represents the largest investment ever in the young people of Mt View and East Anchorage. At the corner of the school site, the intersection improvements at the Glenn Highway and Bragaw St. are beginning to take shape. This weekend the old pedestrian bridge came down.

new mt view branch library

Check it out! This is the new Mt View Branch Library, seen here in a perspective rendering by MCG Architects. The same architect doing the new Clark Middle School adjacent. The part of the building on the right is an existing building that’s been the home of the Muncipal Dept. of Parks and Recreation since 1989. Before that, for a few years there was a branch library there. Soon it will be a library again. The tall portion in the middle contains the new entrance, lobby, restrooms and mechanical space, and on the left hand side is a brand new community meeting room. There’s a second entrance on the opposite side, facing the school and some large windows in the back off the meeting room looking at a lawn and landscaped garden area, including a reading circle.
Susanne Fleek, Project Manager for the Municipality, presented the revised design concept at the March Community Council meeting, and reported that construction will begin soon and will likely be finished by the end of 2008. Both public funds and substantial private donations were combined to fund the $2.3 million project. They are still looking for donations for materials, and anyone who desires may donate books directly through amazon dot com.
Former Anchorage mayor Tom Fink closed the Mt View branch and three other branches in 1989. I won’t go into how I feel about that era — suffice to say, in many ways Anchorage barely survived it. Although MOA operated a branch of sorts in part of the old Clark school from the mid-’90s until recently, there really wasn’t much there beyond a couple shelves of books.
I can’t wait to see the new branch. A great accomplishment and victory for the community.

school and road projects in full swing

Lots of changes since I’ve posted here last! The old Clark school was completely annihilated in about a month. At the same time, a couple blocks of houses and four-plexes along Bragaw St. south of the Glenn were uprooted, demolished and moved away. Water line replacement work is happening.

Photo: miscellaneous metal from the old Clark Middle School sits in an Anchorage metals recycling scrap yard.

The foundation for the new Clark school is almost in. Along with the ongoing work on the mall, the entire southwest portion of the neighborhood has been torn apart this summer! Acres that used to be wooded are now visible from a long ways off. At the corner of Bragaw and Glenn, the pedestrian overpass is still there for now, looking out of place in the current desolate moonscape. Looking around, I can visulaize the reworked intersection, and the gleaming new school building. But completion for both is still two years off.

clark middle school rebuild assured

Wow, it’s nice to have something succeed! A lot of people were convinced the bond proposition to fund the Clark Middle School Replacement project would fail at the ballot box in the recent municipal election. But in a rare moment for Anchorage, all of the bond propositions passed. Roads, parks, schools, infrastructure — we said yes to all of it this time.
[We also came down on the wrong side in a statewide advisory vote on whether or not to allow same-sex couples to receive job benefits offered by their partner’s employer — a disgusting outcome, but that’s another story.]
Anyhow… chalk up the success of the Clark bond to a good PR campaign that clarified the state will pay 60 percent of the bill, and that since other ASD obligations are being paid off the Clark bond resulted in no net overall gain in indebtedness. It was felt by many that ballot language has never made this very clear in the past.
So work will begin immediately after school closes for the summer next month. All of the existing, mostly 50+ year old building will be torn down to make way for the new school.
Clark Principal Cessilye Williams told the audience at the April Community Council meeting that the student population will be dispersed over four other Anchorage middle schools — Begich, Wendler, Central and Romig — and that this is possible because the newest school, Begich was recently opened and so the four schools can absorb Clark’s students for two years and still not be overcrowded. Ms. Williams said that every effort will be made to completely integrate the Clark students, so they are not singled out or alienated.
The architect showed early versions of exterior schemes for the new building, with some exterior material samples — polished and unpolished porcelain tile, and heavy duty metal siding with baked-on enamel metallic finish.
It’s all very exciting.