Two big local developments regarding trails:
Ester Valley Trail Court Case Ends with an Agreement
This past week the court case regarding public access to the Ester Valley Trail ended with an agreement between the two parties that will eventually reroute the trail and allow for public access. The trail, which will be renamed, should be open to the public by fall/winter of 2025. It will be open for motorized use, though not highway vehicles.
Geoffrey Orth, the complainant who sued for public access, will have more info in about a week. He will also be starting webpage asking for donations to help recoup the costs of the lawsuit.
Trails Plan Referred to Platting Board
At last night’s meeting, the Fairbanks Borough Assembly voted to refer the Comprehensive Recreational Trails Plan update to the borough Platting Board with a recommendation due back no later than June 8.
The referral came with a couple of conditions. I won’t state them exactly since the meeting ran late (it recessed just before 1am) and it was contentious and often confusing, with lots of amendments atop of amendments. I will do a full blog post after I get the final wording from the borough clerk’s office.
Basically, the conditions were:
- To come up with a map that very clearly shows property lines and A and B trails from the plan so that people who own property across which those trails run can know where they are. (And where easements would be required if the property owners choose to subdivide.)
- Come up with three alternative routes for A and B trails running across those properties. (I especially want to see the final wording for this, as I am unclear as to whether this means alternative routes within the properties or around the properties.)
There were also a couple of other changes, the most significant of which were:
- The Ace Lakes Connector Trail (IC9 in the trails plan update) was removed from the plan. This trail has proven contentious. Some people have devised an informal reroute, which appears to be working for now. It might be added to the plan at a later date.
- The conceptual Nenana Uplands Forest Traverse Trail (IAR-9 in the plan) was rerouted to provide more of a buffer to neighboring private property.
I believe those are the most pertinent details. (And I believe I have relayed them correctly. I need time to look over my notes, but first I have to dig out!)
Note: The trails plan was only one contentious issue at the meeting, which is why it ran so late. The Assembly also passed the Capital Improvement Program but with significant amendments that caused lots of debate and often confusion. However, no trail projects were involved in that.
Jean W James says
What are the implications of trail plan being sent to the Platting Board?
Eric Troyer says
Well, for one thing it delays approval. The conditions set by the Assembly mean the administration and Platting Board will have to come up with a lot of reroute options for A and B trails. I’m not sure that they are all possible. In short, it’s a lot of work for the administration and it’s not clear they can come up with a solution that will be satisfactory for the Assembly.
Barbara Haney says
Hi Jean James,
I can only speak for myself- I did not want any property owners being surprised -that includes road service commissioners who may be wholly unaware of these trails and the need to provide access as part of their road service responsibilities, and EMS who may have to respond to events on trails. Commercial banks have some of these properties on their asset page, and I rather doubt they are paying very close attention to the borough trails plan. You may think, “oh surely everyone knows about this by now…” but my phone log todays suggests otherwise. In my opinion, such as it is, property lines should have been on the maps originally and part of the public notice that precedes due process. The re-route options? Eh, ok, but I think the property lines were the most important part, and that was part of my original request months ago.
I also think it would be helpful if the trails were plotted in “OnX-Hunt” ap, but that is probably asking too much. That is what I had originally requested and it would have been a very handy tool for everyone in this process. Too bad they didn’t do it, because that is a very popular ap used by hunters and real estate professionals.
I know many of you are not happy with this delay, and I have received many emails that had rather terse comments about property owners and particular assembly members. Just remember, these are property owners who are having partial use and quiet enjoyment removed for a greater recreational benefit. Borough operations are funded by property taxes by these property owners. It is better to work it out before the approval of the plan, than later under litigation.
Eric Troyer says
Thanks for your comments, Barbara. This has been learning process, especially in regard to understanding different viewpoints. While I am a strong advocate of the trails plan, I am trying to understand your viewpoint as well as the other Assembly members who have reservations about the plan. Your willingness to keep lines of communication open really helps.