Disputed waterfront land parcel in W. Anchorage to remain municipal property

Sean Doogan

A Superior Court judge has ended a seven-year dispute between property owners in the Turnagain neighborhood and the municipality of Anchorage, finding in favor of the municipality.

The 3 acres at issue sit next to Lyn Ary Park. Before the magnitude 9.2 Good Friday earthquake of 1964, the land was attached to parcels above the bluffs along Cook Inlet. During and after the quake, the land sloughed down the bluff and now is at the edge of the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail.

A group of property owners in the area claimed it belonged to them. They wanted deed to the land so it could be developed. But the municipality of Anchorage also claimed it owned the land, which is currently the site of an unofficial community garden. The April 30 ruling from Anchorage Superior Court Judge Andrew Guidi affirmed the municipality's claims.

The ownership chain for the land goes back to the 1940s, when the parcel was held by Alaska pioneer Marvin "Muktuk" Marston. Guidi said in his ruling that the plaintiffs -- including Matt Fink, son of former Anchorage Mayor Tom Fink -- were too late in filing their ownership claim. In 1985, the land had been divided by the building of the Coastal Trail, which winds 11 miles from downtown Anchorage to Kincaid Park.

Guidi ruled that a 10-year statute of limitations applied to the land dispute, and the clock began to tick when the Coastal Trail was put through the area. The lawsuit from the property owners requesting deed to the land was filed in December 2007, long after the 10-year clock had run out.

Contact Sean Doogan at sean@alaskadispatch.com.


Alaska Dispatch