There was a public session on Dec. 1st where there was an opportunity to comment on four new options for park improvements. Commendably, the first option was to do nothing at all. Each person was given three little round stickers, to place on the scheme/s they liked the best. When I left the gathering there were about 50 people there and there were at least 25 dots on Option #1. Options #2 and #3 leave a smaller footprint but are still noticeable changes, and Option #4, though scaled down still has most of the features of the controversial original plan, including a driving range.
I am advocating for no changes. I think the public is starting to agree! The Anchorage Daily News came out in favor of improvements for safety only, in a Nov. 28th editorial. At least one recent letter to the ADN editor again raises serious questions about the efficacy of golf as a conduit for rehab and recreation of troubled kids.
Local cross-country advocate and activist Dirk Sisson gives more details in a Nov. 30th ADN guest editorial. [Do yourself a favor and stay out of the comments section following Dirk’s piece, or if you must go there please take solace in the idea that these goons are too busy killing more brain cells in the evening to go to any meetings.]
I’d like to know a little more about First Tee, the operator/conecssionaire partnering with MOA to run the golf course. I’d like to know more about chemicals to be used to fertilize fairways and greens. Someone told me that mercury is used in some parts of the country to keep mildew out of the fine grass used on greens!
Further public testimony will occur on Dec. 11th, Jan. 8th and Feb. 12th. Everyone who cares about this park, a treasure and a relic of this city’s wilderness legacy should study up on this project proposal and provide feedback.
Mayor can’t unilaterally alter park
The Compass piece by Mick Brogan supporting First Tee’s golfing development plans for Russian Jack Springs Park (ADN, Dec. 10) completely misses the mark. First, the folks who don’t want to see any of the remaining natural environment of Russian Jack sacrificed to First Tee’s proposed golf course development and related “improvements” are not trying to protect this small patch of natural land as a critical contribution to combating global warming. Instead, they are trying to preserve what remains of the original, natural scene in this relatively small public park, for the sake of the park itself, and for its many and varied users. So his suggestion that trees can simply be planted elsewhere as mitigation and “biomass offset” is pure nonsense.
Second, Mr. Begich is mayor, not king. He may have shaken hands and told First Tee that they could do what they proposed in Russian Jack. But Mr. Begich has no legal authority to override or ignore the existing, adopted park plans and related management plans that govern this park. If First Tee believed the mayor could just do that, they are either naive or gullible — and in any case, they are wrong.
— T. E. Meacham