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City rejects routine snowmachining at Kincaid but commits to finding a place

Rosemary Shinohara

The city Parks and Recreation Commission and the city Parks Department did not approve a proposal for snowmobilers to use the motorcross area of Kincaid Park on a regular basis.

But the commission recognizes a need for a permanent area for motorized sports, Parks director John Rodda said Saturday.

The commission, meeting Thursday, approved a two-part resolution, he said:

• It recommended the Alaska State Sno-X Lions Club, which proposed opening the motocross section of Kincaid to snowmobiling, apply to hold up to four special events there next winter.

That will give the city a chance to measure the impacts, Rodda said. "We won't know really until one of these events occurs. We'll learn as we go."

• It said the Parks Department, the Sno-X Lions, another Lions group that runs motocross events, and other interested parties should get together to come up with a plan for a permanent place for snowmobiling and motocross in Anchorage by April 2014.

"The essence is, in a year, we'll identify a suitable site," Rodda said. "We will have an action plan to develop it."

"It's a beginning," said Dane Ferguson, president of the Alaska State Sno-X Lion's Club, which sponsored the proposal for snowmachine use in Kincaid.

Ferguson is an X-Games gold medalist snowmobiler.

"We're just happy the city is willing to work with us on getting a future site," he said. "We're excited about being able to have events for older kids next year," the special events noted in the Parks Commission's resolution.

Ferguson said the backers of the proposal didn't know about the level of opposition that would surface when they started working on the project.

Kincaid Park is 1,500 acres, and is best known in winter for its extensive groomed cross country ski trails.

The Sno-X Lions Club in January laid out its proposal for about 15 acres in the Jodhpur area in the southeast corner of Kincaid to be opened for snowmobiling certain hours from Wednesday to Sunday in winter.

Another Lions group, the Anchorage Racing Lions, manages motocross events there in the summer.

The Parks Commission held well-attended public hearings in January and February at which snowmobile fans supported the idea of snowmachines in Kincaid. The Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage, some nearby residents and others opposed the plan.

In the end, "everybody acknowledged there is a need, and this site is too small," Rodda said.

He said Kincaid's historical use, and the fact that national and international ski events have been hosted there, needed to be taken into account, too.

When motocross started up at Kincaid years ago, that was intended to be a temporary site, Rodda said. But there has been no effort to find another area.

The search for a snowmobiling area will include consideration of what would make a good, permanent motocross area as well, Rodda said.

One area that came to mind was 70 acres of city parkland in South Anchorage, on the north side of the O'Malley Road-Minnesota Drive extension, Rodda said. But there are permitting issues there, he said.

Rodda said the Parks Department will contact people next week to set up the first meeting aimed at finding a permanent location for the motorized sports.

"I think it's a fair resolution," he said.

 

Reach Rosemary Shinohara at rshinohara@adn.com or 257-4340.

 

 


By ROSEMARY SHINOHARA
rshinohara@adn.com