Fairbanks-area trail advocates have an opportunity to make a real difference with local trails and trail access this coming week.
The Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly will be discussing and taking public testimony on the borough’s Capital Improvement Program: Resolution No. 2022 – 03; A Resolution Adopting the FY 2023 Capital Improvement Program.
Several projects on the list are trail-specific projects. One is particularly important: “FNSB Public Community Trails Improvement Program (FY23).” (More on other projects later.)
This project is critical for the protection of and access to local trails. It will essentially create a “trail-a-year” program funded at $350,000 a year. If funded, the FNSB Parks and Recreation Department would use the money to fix up physical access at trail entrances and purchase/negotiate legal access or develop reroutes where the borough has trespass issues. The department would select trails (mainly “Category B” trails from the FNBS Comprehensive Trail Plan) based on priority, need, and feasibility.
FNSB Trails Coordinator Bryant Wright believes funding of this project would be a big win for local trails.
“We finally will have the support to negotiate and purchase easements, and develop basic access to priority trails that are in trespass,” Wright wrote in an email. “This is the requisite precursor to any and all trail development that the community has asked for.”
If funded, this project would start next year. All the other trail-specific projects are planned for several years down the road. (Please note that funds for any of these projects would not necessarily all come from local government. Borough staff will look for funding from grant programs, such as the Recreational Trails Program. They do this regularly.)
If you support the “trail-a-year” project or any of the projects, please make sure your voice is heard. Here are ways to be heard (starting with actions that have the most impact). You can do more than one!
- Come to the FNSB Borough Assembly meeting on Thursday, February 24, and testify in support.
- Masks as suggested but not required in the Borough Assembly chambers.
- The meeting starts at 6 p.m. The resolution should come up relatively quickly, but no guarantees
- Zoom or call in to testify in support
- Call one or more assembly members before the meeting
- Email the assembly before the meeting
HOW TO TESTIFY OR OTHERWISE CONTACT THE ASSEMBLY
- If you want to comment at the meeting in-person, or by Zoom or phone, you should sign up first. That guarantees your spot in line. When you speak you will have 3 minutes. This page has information on how to testify by phone or Zoom.
- You can also let assembly members know your feelings before the meeting. You can find individual email addresses and phone numbers for the Assembly here.
- You can also send a single email to the entire Assembly at: firstname.lastname@example.org
- You can also send an email to the assembly by using an online form.
INFORMATION ABOUT THE RESOLUTION
- You can see the entire meeting agenda here.
- The resolution can be seen here.
- If you dig into the background material of the resolution, please make sure to read below “A NOTE ABOUT THE RANKING LIST AND FUNDING SCHEDULE.”
OTHER TRAIL-SPECIFIC PROJECTS
There are a number of other trail-specific and trail-related projects in the CIP list. Feel free to advocate for any or all of them, if you support them. The other trail-specific projects on the CIP list (and the year they are scheduled to be funded) are:
- Peede Road Recreation Development (FY30)
- Isberg Recreation Area Master Plan Implementation (beyond FY32)
- Skyline Ridge Park Trail System Development (beyond FY32)
- Equinox Marathon Trail Extension and Completion (beyond FY32)
Other projects on the list have components that are trail-related. Mainly these are improvement projects for the borough’s Chena Lake and Tanana Lakes recreation areas.
A NOTE ABOUT THE RANKING LIST AND FUNDING SCHEDULE
Background material for the CIP list includes a “Technical Score Summary” and a spreadsheet. While both are important, the spreadsheet is the one to focus on. That has the fiscal year each project is planned to be funded. It does not necessarily line up with score sheet. For example, Isberg Rec Area ranks higher than Peede Road Recreation but is scheduled farther out. (The Community Trails Improvement Program is way down at the bottom of the spreadsheet but would be funded starting next year.)
OTHER CIP PROJECTS
The total list of CIP projects is long and varied. It has many worthy projects that have nothing to do with trails or Parks and Recreation. If you feel strongly about any of those projects, make sure to let your voice be heard on those, as well.
The CIP list is a way for the borough to prioritize how our local government will spend its money, time, and resources. Funding for any of the projects on the list is not guaranteed until passed by the assembly. And some projects, such as trails, can use grants and other funding sources from outside the borough government.