Sullivan vetoes Assembly's East Anchorage park, but override could be next

Nathaniel Herz
The city acquired the East Anchorage property in 2006. It's part of a narrow, 29-acre strip that was purchased for $5 million from the federal government, which had seized the land in a drug case, according to court papers.
Bill Roth
The Anchorage Assembly voted 9-2 to dedicate the parcel of land east of the intersection of DeBarr and Muldoon roads as a city park.
Bill Roth

Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan has vetoed a decision by the Assembly to dedicate 16 acres of city-owned land for a park in East Anchorage.

The Assembly last week voted 9 to 2 in favor of a measure sponsored by Adam Trombley that would combine the land with 13 acres previously set aside for a park-- an idea that's popular among East Anchorage residents.

That's a veto-proof majority -- it only takes eight Assembly members to override a veto -- but Sullivan said he thought some of those votes could flip.

He said that the Assembly had moved too quickly to dedicate the parkland. In its haste, he said, it skipped reviews by city planning and parks commissions and the publication of a comprehensive plan for the area.

That echoes objections by some of the Assembly members at last week's meeting who nonetheless voted in support of Trombley's measure.

"I'm assuming there's going to be enough Assembly members who recognize that there's a right way to go about it and a wrong way to go about it," Sullivan said in a phone interview late Monday. "What the Assembly wants to do right now is another example of violating the process."

Trombley, who is in the middle of a high-profile re-election campaign, said he had not read Sullivan's veto justification as of Monday evening. He said he was informed of the move in a call earlier in the day from Sullivan's senior policy advisor, Larry Baker.

"My reaction was, 'I look forward to overriding the mayor's veto,' " Trombley said.

The 16-acre parcel is part of a narrow, 29-acre strip running along Chester Creek east of the intersection of DeBarr and Muldoon roads.

The city bought the property in 2006 for $5 million from the federal government, which had seized the land in a drug case, according to court papers.

The eastern-most portion of the land was already set aside for a park, but the rest was originally zoned for commercial development and housing, despite broad local support to dedicate the whole parcel as parkland.

Sullivan's written veto message cites two studies that said the city lacks land for commercial and residential development.

Trombley said that he thought the planning process advocated by Sullivan is often used to "slow things down."

"Could we go through that process? Yeah, we could," he said. "But why waste the peoples' time and the peoples' money to come to a conclusion that we knew eight months, nine months, nine years prior -- that this is what the community wanted."

Reach Nathaniel Herz at or 257-4311.