Eagle River council hears road, crime concerns

Tuesday, August 15, 2017 - 14:16
  • A truck drives up Coronado Road in Eagle River on July 16, 2017. The road is the subject of resident complaints about speeding and excessive vehicle noise. (Star photo by Kirsten Swann)
  • Star photo by Kirsten Swann Eagle River’s Coronado Road at the intersection with Dawn Street on July 16, 2017. The road is the subject of resident complaints about speeding and excessive vehicle noise.

While summer rainclouds and Bear Paw Festival crowds converged outside the Eagle River Town Center Thursday night, a half-dozen locals gathered inside for a drier purpose – the monthly meeting of the Eagle River Community Council.

The ERCC, one of six area community councils, is the only council to hold regular meetings throughout the summer months. Its July 13 meeting covered community issues ranging from public safety to parks.

Eagle River resident Bobbi McDowl came to inquire about a solution to ongoing road noise outside her downtown apartment complex. On Coronado Street, she said, speeding vehicles are a recurring problem, causing ear-splitting noise and a safety hazard for pedestrians.

Three years after she moved into the Coronado Street apartment, the problem has yet to go away, McDowl said. Her neighbors banded together to sign a petition, she said. In September 2016, she took the problem to the ERCC, and board members voted unanimously to request the Municipality of Anchorage conduct a traffic calming study on the busy downtown side street.

The very next day, she said, a speeding driver crashed his car into a neighbor’s tree.

“The paramedics had to come, and I was like ‘This is exactly what I’m talking about!’” McDowl said.

The traffic calming study supported in 2016 is currently underway, according to ERCC board members. McDowl said she’s still waiting for something to change.

“It’s just as noisy as ever,” she said.

Michael Mott — who arrived to the meeting early and waited outside the locked Town Center doors for more than 10 minutes before a local park official appeared with a key — addressed the council about a recurring community concern.

“It seems like there’s a continuing level of petty activity going on, and it seems to effect an awful lot of people,” he said. “It seems like it just comes in waves; it goes all across Eagle River,”

On Facebook pages like Eagle River Crime Watch and Anchorage Scanner Joe, Mott read about car thefts and break-ins and property crime and petty thievery, and it seemed to him like little was being done to address it, he said.

“There’s no penalties now, or light penalties for petty theft, and the cops don’t have the wherewithal to keep arresting these guys when the state attorney’s office is understaffed and don’t prosecute them to begin with,” Mott said.

He asked council members if they could bring those concerns to the Anchorage Assembly and the Anchorage Police Department. Council member Michael Melielo said it sounded like an issue for local assembly representatives Amy Demboski and Fred Dyson, neither of whom were at the brief meeting.

After a few quick updates from board members, the July ERCC adjourned approximately 30 minutes after it was called to order.

The next Birchwood Community Council meeting is August 9 at 7 p.m. at Beach Lake Chalet (17611 South Birchwood Loop). The next ERCC meeting is scheduled to take place August 10 at 7 p.m. at the Eagle River Town Center, 12001 Business Blvd. Chugiak-Eagle River’s other four councils are scheduled to reconvene in September. For more information on local community councils, visit www.CommunityCouncils.org.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misidentified council member Michael Melielo as council president Michael Foster. Additionally, the story misstated the date of the next Birchwood Community Council meeting.

Contact reporter Kirsten Swann at kirsten.swann@alaska.star.com

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