Birchwood Community Council discusses pipeline, tariffs, and Birchwood Airport

Wednesday, February 21, 2018 - 12:02

The Birchwood Community Council met on Feb. 14 to discuss issues ranging from a water transmission pipeline approved in December by the Anchorage Assembly to conversing about a potential new cemetery in Eagle River or Chugiak. Attendees also heard from several candidates for upcoming elections.

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Transmission pipeline

The pipeline will be installed to accommodate the 1,500 single-family homes that Eklutna Inc. intends to construct near the North Eagle River Exit. In December, the Anchorage Assembly passed legislation empowering Anchorage Water &Wastewater Utility to determine a route for the pipeline that will have the least impact on Birchwood residents.

The Birchwood council has been coordinating with AWWU to ascertain the least disruptive route for the pipeline. AWWU had no official routes they wanted to discuss with the council.

Tariff adjustments

The Birchwood representatives asked attendees if they wanted to explore options for rewriting the tariff that regulates raising money for projects like the transmission pipeline and deciding utility rates.

The tariff was created by the Regulatory Commission of Alaska. Members of the council argued that the current process does not suit the needs of the community, evidenced by the Anchorage Assembly needing to intervene in December to adjust the tariff to pass the ordinance for the pipeline.

“We’re not trying to upend the whole tariff,” said council vice chair Debbie Ossiander. “We’re just trying to make it fit a large-lot issue and the water transmission line issue.”

Council chair Kevin McNamara said one of the main takeaways of the meeting was the council work with AWWU on the transmission pipeline.

“Even though it’s (the pipeline project) been before the Assembly, I think we have a chance of slowing it down a little bit to where we can get some more information about it and perhaps have some direction in how they run it,” he said.

Birchwood Airport

Matthew Cruickshank, BCC’s secretary for publicity, read a letter from Sen. Anna MacKinnon concerning rumors about the state selling Birchwood Airport. The senator wrote that Eklutna is in talks with the Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration about Eklutna possibly managing the Birchwood Airport.

Eklutna Inc. will be vetted by DOT and FAA prior to taking on the management role. The state is not selling the Birchwood Airport and the public will have the ability to voice concerns if there is a formal proposal to switch management to a private entity.

Potential new cemetery

Lexi Hill, secretary and Parks &Rec representative, reported that there are discussions for creating an area-wide bond for a cemetery in Eagle River or Chugiak. The public section of the municipal cemetery in Anchorage will be filled within 10 years, increasing the need for a local graveyard. The council was open to the idea though no exact sites have been proposed.

Candidates for office

David Nees spoke with attendees about his campaign for the open seat of the Anchorage School District Board, which has four candidates. As a member of the school board, he would fund teachers and classrooms first, which he asserts members of the community want.

Craig Christenson, retired colonel and veteran of the Army and Air Force, spoke briefly about his campaign for the Alaska State House. He would run for District 13, currently held by Rep. Dan Saddler, and would fight to protect the PFD, repeal SB 91 and enact stronger sentencing laws.

BCC’s next meeting will be on March 14 at Beach Lake Chalet, 17611 S. Birchwood Loop Rd.

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