Assembly to debate tennis, taxis tonight

Nathaniel Herz

The Anchorage Assembly will consider several long-awaited measures at its Tuesday meeting, including the construction of indoor tennis courts and the regulation of the city taxi industry. But just how they'll vote is far from clear.

A new taxi ordinance will be considered, but before a vote on the full measure, Assembly members will first have to approve or reject 14 proposed amendments. They range from industry-friendly changes, like removing a requirement that all vehicles be front- or four-wheel-drive, to an amendment that would require tracking of certain calls from Girdwood and Chugiak-Eagle River, where residents have complained of subpar service.

Assembly members will also consider a pair of competing measures that would determine whether the city will use state grant funding to build indoor tennis courts in the Turnagain neighborhood -- but it's possible that neither will get enough votes for approval.

It appears that the 11-member Assembly is split down the middle, with five different members supporting each measure, and one member, Chugiak-Eagle River's Amy Demboski, not willing to vote for either.

"I try to listen to both sides and be very open, and let the information come to me," Demboski said in a phone interview Monday. "But at this point, neither side has swayed me that their position is the best solution for the spending of this money."

The two measures are sponsored by Assemblyman Bill Starr, and Assemblyman Tim Steele.

Starr has opposed plans pushed by the Alaska Tennis Association and Mayor Dan Sullivan to build the indoor courts in Turnagain.

His measure would spend much of the grant money on renovations to city ice arenas, and set aside $4 million to buy an existing indoor tennis facility owned by the Alaska Club -- though such a purchase would require authorization from the Alaska Legislature.

Steele's measure would set aside $7.7 million of the grant for construction of a recreation center in Turnagain that would include the courts. Demboski has submitted her own proposal that would return $6 million of the grant to the state, with the idea that it could be redirected to another project in Anchorage.

Demboski supports neither of the other measures, though she said that there's a chance that Starr's proposal could be tweaked to her satisfaction.

There's no rush to approve either, though, she added, saying that she would have "no problem" allowing both measures to fail.

Reach Nathaniel Herz at or 257-4311.