Devin Kelly

A long-contentious plan to build a road through Anchorage’s University-Medical District got the endorsement of the city’s planning commission late Monday night, but the project is also getting a close look from the administration of Mayor Ethan Berkowitz. The U-Med District “Northern Access Project” would link Elmore Road and Bragaw Street and aims to ease access and rising traffic congestion in the area. Universities and major medical centers in the area strongly support the project, but it’s being fought by East Anchorage neighbors and other critics who say the road will threaten green space, ski and walking trails and wetlands. In a 7-0 vote, with two commissioners absent, the Planning and Zoning Commission endorsed the preferred route for the road unveiled by the Alaska Department of...Devin Kelly
The Anchorage Assembly on Tuesday authorized the administration of Mayor Ethan Berkowitz to move forward with a bid on ConocoPhillips' gas properties in Cook Inlet. With the Assembly's approval, City Manager Mike Abbott said the administration plans to submit bid documents before a Friday deadline to buy all or some of ConocoPhillips’ interests in the region. Those include a one-third interest in the Beluga River gas field on the upper west side of the Inlet; the North Cook Inlet gas field, operated from the Tyonek platform in the northern Inlet; and 5,700 acres of leased lands in and around the Inlet. The oil and gas company announced in July it was starting to market the properties. Last month, the Berkowitz administration said it was considering submitting “one or more bids” in a...Devin Kelly
Daytime detours will be in place on the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail this week as city crews start an 11-day project to protect a stretch of shoreline against erosion. Starting Monday, the popular trail will be closed from Westchester Lagoon to west of Lyn Ary Park between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., parks superintendent Josh Durand wrote in a Friday notice. The closure ends Oct. 16. “The shoreline adjacent to this section of the Coastal Trail experienced substantial erosion from saturated soils and wind-driven waves during the high tide on Aug. 31,” Durand wrote. Trail users will be asked to use detours . On the weekend, the trail will be open with unrestricted access, Durand said. The city has already insulated much of the Coastal Trail shoreline against tides and weather with large rocks, Durand...Devin Kelly
Anchorage police are investigating what they say was a fatal hit-and-run in Fairview Friday night. At about 11:30 p.m., Anchorage Safety Patrol officers found a man lying unconscious in the street at East 12th Avenue and Gambell Street. His injuries were “severe,” Anchorage police spokeswoman Jennifer Castro wrote in a statement. Police and paramedics responded and the man was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead, Castro said. Late Saturday afternoon, police identified the man as 56-year-old Tyrone Milton. After further investigation, police determined that Milton had been hit by a car, Castro said. But she said that no vehicles were found near the scene and police did not receive reports of a collision. Police are asking anyone with information to contact dispatchers at 907-...Devin Kelly
Anchorage’s new law adding discrimination protections for gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual people is now officially on the books, with Anchorage Assembly Chair Dick Traini signing the legislation Friday morning in a brief ceremony at City Hall. The Assembly passed the law in a 9-2 vote just before midnight Tuesday. Normally, the chair signs legislation with little fanfare, Traini said. But he said he wanted to have a ceremony to give the law’s supporters closure. Traini signed the law with Assembly member Elvi Gray-Jackson at his side. About two dozen onlookers cheered as he handed out the pens he used to sign the measure. “It’s been a long road,” Traini told the room after the signing. “And this will help a lot of people in Anchorage who have been discriminated against. So...Devin Kelly,Suzanna Caldwell
Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz unveiled a 2016 budget proposal Friday that contained a $5 million increase in spending on public safety, as well as a proposal to use increased property tax revenue to help pay for it. "In some ways, this budget reflects the fact Anchorage is going to pay some price for the state’s fiscal crisis," Berkowitz said during a Friday work session with Anchorage Assembly members. The informal session afforded Berkowitz and his administration an opportunity to to present an overview of his first proposed budget. Berkowitz said the $482 million proposed budget, which will take effect in January, is “significantly” smaller overall than the 2015 budget when adjusted for inflation and population growth. But the city is projecting about $11.5 million less revenue from...Devin Kelly
Equal rights timeline September 1975: Anchorage Municipal Charter adopted. The charter required the Assembly to enact ordinances "against invidious discrimination in housing, public accommodations, employment, education, and financing practices on the basis of race, religion, age, sex, color, national origin, marital status or physical handicap,” but did not offer protections to gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual individuals. Dec. 16, 1975: Anchorage Assembly introduces an ordinance to include “sexual preference” with pregnancy and parenthood in a prohibition on “sexual discrimination.” Dec. 30, 1975: The Assembly unanimously approves the expanded sexual discrimination ordinance. Jan. 6, 1976: Mayor George Sullivan vetoes the ordinance, indicating a policy objection to the inclusion...Devin Kelly
In a 9-2 vote, the Anchorage Assembly late Tuesday night made it illegal in the city to discriminate over sexual orientation or gender identity. The new local civil rights ordinance, the first of its kind in Alaska, will take effect as soon as it is signed by Assembly Chair Dick Traini, with the Assembly rejecting an amendment to require a public advisory vote in April. Mayor Ethan Berkowitz said he does not plan to veto the ordinance, which was co-authored by Assembly members Bill Evans and Patrick Flynn and passed shortly before midnight Tuesday. The ordinance adds protections to Anchorage equal rights laws for gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual people in housing, employment and public accommodations and includes exemptions for religious groups and those with ministerial duties. In...Devin Kelly
Behind a wall of tall trees along Arctic Boulevard, an Anchorage church is erecting a vast facility that is being billed as the city’s newest community and athletic center , with plans for six outdoor playing fields, an indoor stage and a multipurpose room with two basketball courts. Leaders of the nondenominational Faith Christian Community ministry say “The Center,” named for its central Anchorage location, will eventually offer a wide range of secular and faith-based community and recreational programs. The design calls for a 25,000-square-foot building with a kitchen, stage, classrooms, a children's play area and two high-school regulation basketball courts. For part of the day on Sundays, the church will use the building for its religious services. Otherwise, the facility will be...Devin Kelly
A massive search for an Anchorage man missing since Tuesday intensified Saturday when the man’s truck was discovered south of Girdwood, and police, family, friends and volunteers scoured the area in the hope of finding him. Kevin Mitchell, a father of two, is believed to have driven away from his South Anchorage home around 11:30 a.m. Tuesday. His wife, family and friends have been frantically looking for him over the past few days, creating a Facebook page and sending out emailed updates and requests for help. Around 9:30 a.m. Saturday, a friend discovered Mitchell’s gray Toyota Tundra at a lake south of Girdwood, near mile marker 87.5 of the Seward Highway, according to Alaska State Troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters. As of 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Mitchell had not been found. Searchers...Devin Kelly