Buried deep within the Anchorage Assembly’s CARES Act budget is $236,000 for the construction of a new trail in Chugach State Park. This trail is designed to be used by mountain bikers to race their $4,000 toys downhill through otherwise unspoiled forest whilst avoiding the inconvenience of having to pedal.
This shameful abuse of public funding is hidden for good reason.
Is it economic stimulus? No. The Park’s original plan was to build this trail next year, using funds and volunteer labor provided by the biking community. Bringing that labor forward nine months creates no more jobs.
Is it “shovel ready?” No. The Park’s procedures require a public review, which hasn’t happened. Instead, the Park argues that the project is just a “realignment” of a multi-use trail that is in its approved plan. But much of the new trail isn’t in that plan, so how can it be a realignment? And it would be multi-use in name only, since walking up it against the flow of bikes would be dangerous. Many Park users are unhappy.
Emergency funding should be spent to relieve economic distress, not to run roughshod over well-established public planning processes to expand the playgrounds of the wealthy.
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