Beach Lake land appraisal moving forward

Tuesday, September 10, 2019 - 12:14
  • Beach Lake on Monday, Sept. 9, 2019. (Star photo by Matt Tunseth)
  • A ghost advertises the annual “Boo at the Beach” Halloween event inside the Eagle River Town Center Building on Sept. 9, 2019. This year’s event will be held Oct. 12. (Star photo by Matt Tunseth)

A potential windfall for Chugiak-Eagle River taxpayers continues to move forward in one of the area’s quietest areas.

Eagle River/Chugiak Parks and Recreation Director John Rodda told the Parks and Rec Board of Supervisors on Monday the appraisal process at Beach Lake Park is about to get underway — the next toward the sale of a conservation easement on nearly 1,400 acres of the 1,700-acre municipal park.

“At that point, the valuation will have been established,” he said.

The appraisal is needed in order to begin negotiations between Parks and Rec and the U.S. Department of Defense, with the nonprofit Compatible Lands Foundation acting as a deal-maker. If both the military and parks board agree on a valuation and terms of the easement, the nonprofit would then purchase an easement from the municipality at 75 percent of the land’s assessed value.

“We have to accept his results to make the deal from our side and the military has to accept the results on their side,” Rodda said.

Rodda stressed that the easement would allow for the park — which is adjacent to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson — to continue being used just as it is today.

“We are not selling Beach Lake Park,” he stressed.

The proposal has been in the works for about a year and would essentially lock up the land against any future residential development. Since it’s already being used as a park for recreational purposes, Rodda said essentially nothing would change if an easement were granted.

“It’s not a land grab,” he said. “It’s a conservation easement.”

He said he can’t speculate as to the possible appraised value of the land.

Rodda explained that the military likes to have non-residential buffer zones around their bases and live-fire areas. Federal funding is available for the purchase of such easements through the Compatible Lands Act, he said.

Once an appraisal is done, the local board (and possibly the Anchorage Assembly) must sign off on the deal by agreeing on a value and any conditions set forth on the land. At that point, the nonprofit would write Parks and Rec a check that would go directly back into the local service area to be used for anything from rate cuts to the purchase of new equipment.

“It’s unrestricted,” Rodda said.

Rodda said he expects the appraisal process to be completed by November.

Fall events planned at Beach Lake Trails

Eagle River/Chugiak Parks and Rec Manager Karen Richards told the board local trails are “doing great” and in good shape for the fall. She said the Beach Lake Trails in Chugiak will host the Bonny Sosa Tuesday Night Race Series for the second year in a row on Tuesday, Sept. 24. Races start at 6:30 p.m. and registration is available at

“We had a good time last year so I think it’s going to be even bigger,” Richards said or the weekly race series, which began Sept. 10 and runs through Oct. 29.

The biggest fall event on the trails is the annual “Boo at the Beach” Halloween event, which Richards said continues to grow. Last year more than 900 children attended the event’s trick-or-treat trail.

“That’s 27,000 pieces” of candy, Richards told the board.

“Wowsers,” said alternate board member Sarah Wright, who was filling in for the absent Pete Panarese.

Richards said the department is still in need of donations and volunteers for the annual event, which will be held Oct. 12 at the Beach Lake Trails and chalet.

“There are any number of ways people can help and contribute,” she said.

Although donations of candy and water are always appreciated, Richards said volunteers are also needed to staff the haunted trail side of the event. Anyone interested can contact the Parks and Rec office in Eagle River at 343-1500.

The cost to attend this year’s event is $5 for trick-or-treaters or $10 for the haunted trail side.

In other items Monday:

- Richards said the dock at Beach Lake Park remains closed due to being in an unsafe condition from earthquake damage.

- Rodda said the Anchorage Assembly planned to take up a proposed land transfer from the Heritage Land Bank to Parks and Rec at its Tuesday night meeting. The move would formally transfer the land being used by the department as a storage site to Parks and Rec for the fair market value of $1.5 million. The Parks and Rec board and Heritage Land Bank board have both endorsed the transfer.

- Rodda said he’s continuing to look into potential contractors to help design a possible dog park in Chugiak-Eagle River, though no final determinations have been made on the issue, which has been under discussion for more than two years.

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