Assembly OK’s bond proposal that would include funding for Chugiak area road project

Thursday, January 30, 2020 - 13:01
  • Chugiak, Alaska (Matt Tunseth / Chugiak-Eagle River Star)

Chugiak might be getting a new road — whether it likes it or not.

The Anchorage Assembly voted Tuesday night to place a $1.1 million bond package before voters in April that includes $500,000 for the design of a short section of road in Peters Creek that would connect Kullberg Drive with Seika Drive. The “life/safety access roads” project is needed to improve emergency access to a neighborhood of about 30 homes, according to the Municipality of Anchorage.

But the bond drew opposition from both the Birchwood Community Council and the Chugiak-Birchwood-Eagle River Rural Road Service Area (CBERRRSA) board of supervisors, who expressed concerns about the service area’s autonomy.

Those concerns were voiced at the Assembly by District 2 (Chugiak/Eagle River) assemblymember Crystal Kennedy, who said the community is worried an areawide bond that includes funding for new roads could interfere with the service area’s authority.

“I think there’s really a stalemate in the ordinance between what the muni thinks it has the power to do and what the service areas believe they are exclusively given the right to do,” Kennedy said.

Assembly member John Weddleton said the roads are needed to improve fire access, particularly during a catastrophic or fast-moving wildlife.

“We need to take care of this stuff,” he said.

Kennedy stressed that she and Chugiak residents aren’t against the projects — which also include upgrades to Boundary Avenue in East Anchorage and Mountain Air Drive on the Anchorage Hillside. But she’s concerned the bond could be problematic for residents of CBERRRSA, which levies its own taxes to pay for the maintenance of approximately 350 miles of roads in Chugiak-Eagle River.

But municipal attorney Rebecca Windt Pearson said that in her opinion the bond does no such thing. She explained that an areawide bond for life and safety improvements doesn’t infringe on CBERRRSA’s autonomy because it’s simply providing additional services beyond what the service area provides.

“State law in my legal opinion does not inhibit the ability of the municipality as a whole — particularly a home rule municipality like Anchorage — from adding areawide services that benefit everyone, even if certain service areas that sit on top of that have different levels of services,” she said.

Only Kennedy voted against placing the bond measure on the ballot; her fellow District 2 representative, Fred Dyson, joined eight others in voting for, while one member, Austin Quinn-Davidson, was absent by the time the debate came to the floor late Tuesday night.

If approved by voters in April, the $1.1 million bond would pay for design and engineering work for the three projects and would add about $0.25 in taxes for every $100,000 of assessed property value.

The assembly meeting can be viewed in its entirety at muni.org.

Email Star editor Matt Tunseth at [email protected] or call 257-4274.

Facebook comments