By Emily Maxwell
Girdwood Alliance, A Community Ally
Back in January, Girdwood 2020 announced it had a new name-Girdwood Alliance (GA). The new moniker certainly fits what and how the non-profit group does what it does, which is to gather community members from many different areas together to advance Girdwood’s interests by supporting “activities that enhance our valley through infrastructure and recreation.”
While the mission seems general, the organization is responsible for achieving many concrete goals, often working closely with Girdwood Board of Supervisors (GBOS)-most recently by sending GA member and advocate Dave Parish to the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT) in Juneau, which resulted in the forthcoming improvements to the safety of the bike path along Alyeska Highway.
Outgoing Chairman Eric Fullerton spoke to GA’s role in the swoops solution.
“I thought, ‘We’ve got to do something about this.’ This was something where we could help[…]primarily we advocate for community safety and supporting initiatives that enhance the community. We talked with GBOS and we jumped on the issue,” he said. “We sent Dave [Parish] to talk to DOT commissioners to see if we could set up a meeting about the swoops. The GBOS already had a resolution written out with the Land Use and Trails Committees. They [DOT] came to Girdwood and did a walk through the swoops.”
Other initiatives have included the Scott and Wesley Gerrish Library & Community Room, the Girdwood Playground, The Roundhouse and the Nordic ski trails. They have also teamed up with Girdwood, Inc. to offer a public lecture series, the topics of which include all things Girdwood such as local history, recreation and housing issues.
Late this summer, the organization, in partnership with Alyeska Resort, hosted the Mountain Music Festival at the top of the tram. The event celebrated the 25th anniversary of the resort and served as a fundraiser for GA. The evening featured bands Past our Prime and The Jangle Bees. Money raised at this and other fundraisers goes directly back to the initiatives that GA works towards.
“That was really helpful for us and our finances at the time,” said Krystal Hoke, who took the position of GA Executive Director this spring. Talking with Hoke, it’s clear that she brings passion and creativity to her position. “The thing I was most interested in was community and how can you make your community better? Those ideas came into my focus back in 2012 when I started looking at really innovative ideas of what different communities were doing,” she said. Her primary focus is on housing and finance for Girdwood. One of the ideas she has to alleviate the affordable housing shortage in Girdwood is a Community Land Trust (CLT) which, she says, could be developed however the community sees fit.
“All of the Girdwood homeowners now share three hundred acres of land. Heritage Land Bank has five thousand acres and I would like to see them donate land to a CLT. There’s a want to have a community rec center, for instance, but if we don’t have land to put it on, how do we even start that process?”
A healthy, thriving community means healthy, thriving businesses and this weekend, GA sent a letter on behalf of Girdwood Brewing Company (GBC) to the Alcohol & Marijuana Control Office (AMCO), the latter of which has proposed a regulation that would restrict recreation activities at breweries and distilleries state-wide, including fundraising events, which are common at GBC.
The letter reads: “Girdwood Brewing Company has become a key drive in our local economy. Not only did they generate community support for their Special Use Permit at their location, but also sought the neighboring church’s endorsement very early on in their organization. They have brought new stable jobs to Girdwood[…] Since their opening, they have provided a venue for a wide array of local fundraising efforts, in addition to offering a space for local artisans to display their work.”
The letter goes on to list the 20+ local organizations for which GBC has hosted fundraisers, all of which also help to create and support our thriving community full of educational and recreational opportunities, wrapping up with, “GBC has proven to be a good neighbor in many ways, and that is why we are taking a stance to oppose measures that would prohibit activities that are good for our economy and disallow fundraisers that help our community in many ways.”
On Saturday, GA announced a shift in its Executive Committee, with Dianna Whitney as the new Chair and Dale Goodwin as the new Vice Chair.