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Story Last modified at 12:07 p.m. on Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Beach Lake plan gets introduced
Public hearing scheduled for July 12

BY MATT TUNSETH
Alaska Star

The continuing saga of the Beach Lake Regional Park Master Plan entered one of its final chapters on Tuesday, June 28, when the revised plan was introduced before the Anchorage Assembly.

The plan, a set of guidelines intended to govern recreational and other uses in the 1,750 acre park in South Birchwood near Chugiak High, will be up for public hearing at the assembly's next scheduled meeting on July 12.

Because of the wide range of stakeholders who use the park, Eagle River Parks manager Val Barkley said she expects that meeting to be a busy one.

"That'll be when you have a lot of people chiming in," she said.

People have already had many opportunities to chime, write or comment their way into the plan, which Barkley said was developed over a lengthy process that included numerous public hearings on the area's largest municipal park.

Copies of the updated plan are available at the Municipality of Anchorage's Web site at www.muni.org/departments/ERparks.

Barkley said the new plan was sorely needed for the park, which hasn't had an updated plan in place since 1973. Since then, she said, the park's uses and needs have changed dramatically, with mushing and cross country skiing the dominant forms of wintertime recreation. Since 1973, Barkley said many things have changed in the park that were never addressed in the original plan.

"We didn't have the Beach Lake Lodge on there, no chalet, no musher trail in place," she said.

Because so much has changed, Barkley said the new plan was needed to give managers and users alike a clear understanding of what's acceptable and unacceptable inside the park's boundaries.

"They want to make sure it's identified what can and can't be done in the park so it just doesn't open up to anything and everything," she said.

Barkley said many of the park's regular users were actively involved in the public process leading to the creation of the new plan.

"All the stakeholders came in and had their say," she said.

The new plan also includes some new lands added to the park since 1973.

Barkley said she believes that, if passed by the assembly, the new plan will help enhance everyone's enjoyment of one of the area's most popular recreation destinations.

"This plan was developed to incorporate all those users," she said.

Contact Matt Tunseth at 694-2727 or matt.tunseth@alaskastar.com



This article published in The Alaska Star on Wednesday, June 29, 2011.