Letters to the Editor
Dear Glacier City Gazette Editor,
The Girdwood Gerrish Library Boosters thank every person who wrote a card or letter or came to a meeting to show support for the Gerrish Library. There were hundreds of cards and many letters written, and a large crowd of community members attended the GBOS meeting and the mayor’s meeting this past week. We also thank Josh Hegna, Girdwood School Librarian, and Girdwood School students for making the powerful video about their support for the Gerrish library.
Once again, the community pulled together, and Mayor Berkowitz assured us that the library will not close this year. However, we need to be vigilant during the autumn municipal budget process. Our assemblyman, John Weddleton, said several times at these past meetings how important it is to demonstrate support for the library during this budget process, especially at public hearings. Community members may want to testify and write more letters.
Here are the known MOA budget-related dates as of September 23.
Sept. 29 – Work Session at City Hall, 2018 Budget Overview and Highlights, 11:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.
Oct. 2 – Mayor’s submission of 2018 operating and capital budgets
Oct. 10 –Assembly Introduction of 2018 operating and capital budgets, 5:00 p.m., Public Hearing 6:00 p.m. at Loussac Library
Oct. 20 –Work Session at City Hall, General Government Operating and Capital Budgets, 12:30–4:30 p.m.
Oct. 27 –Work Session at City Hall, Utilities and Enterprise Operating and Capital Budgets 12:30–4:30 p.m.
Nov. 11 – Regular Assembly meeting, 5:00 p.m. at Loussac Library, No public hearing time posted yet
November 14–Assembly amendments due to Clerk’s Office by close of business
November 17—Work Session at City Hall, Assembly Amendments, No time listed yet
November 21 – Regular Assembly meeting, Potential action on Assembly amendments and 2018 operating and capital budgets, 5:00 p.m. at Loussac Library, No public hearing posted yet
To keep up with these dates, agendas and meeting minutes, visit the MOA Office of Management and Budget and MOA Assembly websites regularly. For questions, you can call or write Kyle Kelley, Girdwood Service Area Manager, at 343-7374 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you again. We truly have a gem of a library and a wonderful librarian, Claire Agni, and staff.
The Girdwood Gerrish Library Boosters
To the Editor,
This letter is in response to the 9/13/17 Letter to the Editor by Brenden Raymond-Yakoubian in the Glacier City Gazette. I welcome all opinions about the Girdwood Nordic Ski Club’s (GNSC) plan to build a new Nordic loop in Girdwood Valley. We have presented our plan at the Trails Committee meetings, LUC meetings, and GBOS meetings and have completed two surveys to listen to community input. I think the more perspectives we consider, the better the trail system. After reading Brenden’s letter, however, I found a few false claims that merit clarification.
Referring to the current Nordic Loop, he stated, “The club’s last project was accidently over-built…sometimes being wider that it was supposed to be.” Not True. The current Nordic loop was intentionally built to FIS standards (International Ski Federation Homologation Standards), allowing large Snow Cat grooming at a trail width of 17 to 20 feet, and also allowing for international ski competition.
That trail description was presented prior to construction from 2006 to 2008 in Girdwood Trails Committee meetings and workshops. It is also written in the 2006 Winner Creek Trails Feasibility Study by The Boutet Company, a study commissioned by the Heritage Land Bank proposing to develop 17 Kilometers of Nordic ski trails within the Glacier Creek/Winner Creek valleys.
There are clearing widths along the trail that are wider than others, but those areas are currently being re-vegetated, and were chosen locations along the trail to source local gravel. Finding local gravel, as many of you know, is like finding gold when building in Girdwood. Local gravel meant a lower chance of invasive weeds cropping up on the new trail, and a lower cost of construction. Trucking in gravel for a five-kilometer trail with a six-meter width was not economically viable. We have been working for six years with a certified local arborist and a local landscape company to help with the revegetation.
Raymond-Yakoubian also stated, “The proposed trail would mostly cater to user groups, especially skate skiers and mountain bikers, who are already very well served by Girdwood’s existing trail system.” Again, not true. This trail caters to everyone. The majority of winter trail users in the Girdwood Valley are walkers, followed in numbers by classic skiers using groomed trails. Anyone that spends time in Moose Meadows already knows this.
Where do those people go when the meadow is a lake from freezing rain…or unusable due to lack of snow? This new trail plan began as a response to winter recreationists that don’t use the Nordic Loop because they are walking, skiing with their dog, or just learning to ski (including the FVCS Nordic ski program) and couldn’t use the meadows because of lack of snow. The question became, “Where can the population of younger skiers and cross country enthusiasts go to find less challenging terrain to learn to ski?”
The GNSC even groomed a trail in Turnagain Pass two years ago as a response to helping locals find a safe and fun trail to “tootle along” as one user commented. We are now seeking to create a trail loop within the Girdwood Valley that provides a safe and fun route for beginner and intermediate skiers, and is open to all other users – including bikes.
Mr. Raymond-Yakoubian continued saying, “It is a detriment to those who enjoy the area in question…undeveloped and contiguously forested, solitude-affording, quiet qualities – qualities which would largely disappear if this project occurs.” I don’t agree. We have found a groomed trail actually encourages more locals to experience the forest, and enjoy the solitude as well. I spent time this past winter specifically in this forest, trying to navigate along on skis, snowshoes, and on foot…which proved difficult at best. I even had flags to help me navigate.
Without a trail, there are few of us that will venture out in the woods to navigate along for a day’s adventure. People love these adventures if they have the fitness and experience to keep stay out of trouble. The majority of the community looks for a trail, and will continue to use a trail for many reasons…to exercise, relieve stress, bird watch, pick berries, socialize, find solitude, and remain healthy…to name a few. A trail that can be groomed for safe use in the winter will bring more users than no trail, a single-track trail (where most of the bikers can be found) or an icy trail.
Raymond-Yakoubian continued stating, “The Club has even, strangely, claimed an aim of their proposed trail is averting future development in the affected area.” What the GNSC actually stated was this forest is zoned as Commercial Resort Development, and that a non-motorized trail has less impact on a forest than commercial resort development or residential development. Once a trail has been established, as seen in other resort communities, that parcel is less likely to be developed with resort or residential structures.
Raymond-Yakoubian ends with the opinion, “This development would unfortunately move us further down that road (referring to an upper-class recreational playground with high-adrenaline sports), and push our resident’s experiences with undeveloped forest farther and farther from everyone’s front door.” As I write, the trees next to my house are being cut to make room for another house. I’m sure if you have a house here, trees were cut to make room for your house.
Many homes in Girdwood might be upper-class, but the trails are not. That is the beauty of trails. They cater to everyone. Trails don’t care what class, color, or age the user might be. A friend who has both Nordic skied and coached for years in this valley once told me she remembers teaching kids to ski on Crow Creek Road in snow machine tracks. It was the only place available. People will always use roads and sidewalks until trails exist. Look at Beaver Pond Trail. Originally, it was a mining road. Not surprisingly, the number one winter trail in Girdwood, on a daily basis, is the Alyeska/Arlberg bike path. One may not consider this a trail, but it turns out the bike path is Girdwood’s most important, and most widely used trail in the valley. Instead of driving to Anchorage to ski, or walking and skiing on roads, or creating winter trails in Turnagain Pass, a groomed trail loop will bring a forest experience closer – not farther – from your door.
President, Girdwood Nordic Ski Club
Greetings Editor and Girdwood,
I felt the need to respond to the letter to the editor by Brenden Raymond-Yakoubian, written in opposition to the proposed multi-use trail for the upper valley.
If we were living in a fairy tale, and Girdwood can seem like one at times, then it might be more difficult to argue for the multi-use trail, although I would still be in support of it for a multitude of reasons. The land in question is held in trust by Heritage Land Bank. You are welcome to check this fact on your own, but the land bank’s holdings are slated to be developed and/or sold off as the need arises.
I am not fear mongering. I am stating a fact. This area of Girdwood has been used as a trail system by locals for quite some time now, but it is not protected in any way. The new Nordic Trail is a dedicated trail in our valley, which garners a certain amount of protection. The more that people use it and enjoy it the more protection/voices it has.
Visitors to the valley, including people from Anchorage, generally do not venture beyond the established trail systems as it is easy to get turned around and lost in the forest. There are many hearty adventurers I know who think Moose Meadows is it. By opening up more areas, we are amassing vocal supporters of our trail systems. I know there is a contingent of people in Girdwood who want to keep this area to themselves and limit use. I think that approach will doom this area to be turned into a neighborhood.
I am one of a core group of people who fought for years to keep the Virgin Creek area from being turned into a golf course and condos. That process took an incredible amount of time and resources before the Muni finally decided to nullify the lease. The trail systems that are being proposed are a proactive way of deciding what we want our valley to be. They benefit us, the resort, visitors and businesses. They are healthy development and they are in step with the lifestyle that our community holds dear.
Eben P. Stone