Community councils tackle local crime, elections

Friday, April 21, 2017 - 15:25
  • Star photo by Kirsten Swann The seal of the Municipality of Anchorage in front of the Eagle River Town Center, where the Eagle River Community Council meets monthly, March 9, 2017. The ERCC is one of six community councils in the Chugiak-Eagle River area.

Community patrols, dog parks and ongoing water utility work dominated the conversation at a fast-paced Eagle River Community Council meeting April 13.

The proposal to form a new volunteer community patrol in Eagle River comes amid growing concerns with local crime. Spearheaded by Powder Ridge resident Cliff Cook and modeled after the Birchwood Community Patrol, the effort is still in the early stages, Cook said.

After introducing the idea at last month’s ERCC meeting, on Thursday, Cook gave a presentation outlining the specifics of the plan. The patrol group would act as eyes and ears for the community council, Cook said. It would serve as a visible crime deterrent and a vigilant observer; members would have no police powers.

“We’re not going to be John Waynes out there,” he said. “We don’t want those types of people as a patrol member.”

The details are still up for discussion: The community patrol group could cover all of Eagle River or focus solely on Powder Ridge, Cook said. Patrol cars, insurance, equipment and related startup costs would total about $5,000. Absent community council funding, the patrol would rely on sponsorships and donations from local businesses and other organizations.

Cook asked the community council for help securing funding for the project.

“A lot of the crime is happening down in the heart of Eagle River, and there’s a lot of businesses down there that may be willing to support an Eagle River community patrol,” he said.

The community council is set to take up the idea again at its May 11 meeting.

While a proposal to build a new dog park in Eagle River didn’t appear on the April 13 ERCC agenda, council members still took questions from several local residents concerned about the plan.

The lot in question is a small wooded parcel at the corner of Eagle River Road and Fire House Lane. The proposal to install a community dog park there has drawn mixed reactions – support from many Eagle River dog lovers but vocal objection from neighborhood residents worried about parking and deforestation.

So far, the Eagle River Community Council has yet to take an official position on the issue because no proposal has been presented to the council, said ERCC vice president Michael Melielo. Brian Fay, ERCC secretary and a member of the Eagle River Parks and Recreation Board of Supervisors, said the parks department is still exploring its options and gathering feedback.

The April ERCC meeting also included a presentation by Anchorage Water and Wastewater Utility engineers, who described ongoing maintenance work scheduled to take place in Eagle River neighborhoods.

The next local community council meeting is Chugiak’s. On April 20 at 7 p.m. at the Elsie Oberg Community Center (18606 Old Glenn Highway), the Chugiak Community Council is expected to elect a new president and representatives for the Chugiak Birchwood Eagle River Rural Road Service Area and Chugiak-Eagle River Advisory Board following the resignation of president Randy McCain last month.

Voting in the election is open to all council members – Chugiak residents, property owners or business representatives age 18 and older, according to CCC bylaws.

For more information, visit the Federation of Community Councils website.

Contact Star reporter Kirsten Swann at kirsten.swann@alaskastar.com

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