Citizens Ask Parcel Exempt From Borough Land Sale

Aug 22, 2019

Credit Courtesy of Keep Peede Trails Public

A group of neighbors in North Pole is asking the Fairbanks North Star Borough not to sell some parcels of undeveloped land. An ordinance introduced at tonight’s borough assembly meeting will set the required sale of borough land, scheduled to start September 15th.

Cam Webb is one of those neighbors who has led a campaign to keep three chunks of land out of the sale. He says the tracts off of Peede and Brock roads have contiguous trails, and have been used by hikers, skiiers, mushers, ATV riders and hunters for decades.

“It’s very accessible public land, of which there is less and less, and I think that makes it very precious. I think many people would prefer to see it left as undeveloped land.”

After the draft proposal for the land sale was released in April, the borough administration began hearing concerns from folks in North Pole about certain parcels. Sandra Mota is the Land Manager.

“They were very well organized and very clear about what they wanted the borough to do with the property, which is obviously what this whole process is about –reaching out to the community before the sale and finding out if there are other thoughts on what should be done with the properties.”

The neighbor group started a website called Keep Peede Trails Public. They have a petition with 140 signatures that Webb says he will bring to tonight’s assembly meeting.

 “Everyone I’ve talked to…No one has said ‘this should be sold.’”

The Peede road tract is huge – 167 acres. The two tracts on Brock Road would remove another 80 acres from the sale. Webb says several people want more rigorous management of the parcels, perhaps even a public recreation area with maintained trails, garbage cans and signs. He says that would keep different user groups from conflicting impacts on the area.

“This is the only place nearby for motorized recreation, and a lot of the users are living on base at Fort Wainwright, so that’s a very large user base.”

The borough Trails Advisory Commission picked up those concerns, having reviewed trails in the North Pole area while compiling the Salcha/Badger comprehensive plan. The Trails Commission wrote a letter in June, asking the mayor to withdraw the Brock Road and Peede Tract parcels from the land sale, citing, quote “the valuable recreation and conservation resources.”

Webb says he’s impressed with how many borough staff members and volunteers reviewed the concerns of the Keep Peede Trails group.

“People had various prejudices of how this was going to go, but our experience has been that the borough, they’ve listened, and they’ve been very responsive. And the mayor, particularly, was kind enough to meet with me. We’re very grateful to the borough for listening.“

The group has partially succeeded. The ordinance being introduced tonight does remove the 167-acre Peede Tract from the sale, retaining it for public use as greenspace. It does not exclude the Brock Road parcels from being sold.

The ordinance will be reviewed at worksession on September fifth and then a public hearing a week later on September 12th when the Assembly will debate, amend and vote on the ordinance.