The Fish Creek Trail isn’t about bikers. It’s about Anchorage.
It’s about safety, connectivity, and equity.
The Fish Creek Trail runs through Spenard and Turnagain, but it is a stagnant trail. It dead-ends on its north end in the middle of a neighborhood. People continue to take social trails from Northern Lights to the Coastal Trail, alongside the Fish Creek estuary, even though the Alaska Railroad and the water utility try to fence off the area for safety. Allowing a safe trail along this stretch is a simple and important way to ensure safety to the Coastal Trail.
Alternatively, creating a trail within the estuary would be exorbitantly expensive.
The McCarrey family is trying to force the expensive option by requesting a 95-year lease for land bordering their own. I don’t respect the McCarreys’ claim that the trail will take away their privacy. The property has privacy from the well-used coastal trail, and the Fish Creek extension would not block access to the property. If they were concerned about privacy, they wouldn’t have built their house in 2013 in full view of the busiest stretch of the busiest trail in Anchorage. I also don’t respect that all of West Anchorage is subjected to the train horns announcing they’re about to cross the McCarrey driveway.
The argument that one can travel through the Turnagain neighborhood also falls short. While there is access at Lyn Ary Park, that adds about a mile-and-a-half more distance for a northbound trail user than simply following Fish Creek. (This would have been just a mile extra, until another public access point, Sydney’s Shortcut, was inexplicably erased from a deed in 2016.)
The Fish Creek Estuary is a beautiful piece of land owned by us. Extending the Fish Creek Trail to the Coastal Trail benefits way more than something for a “few bikers” — it would be utilized by the community for commuting and recreation of all sorts. Anchorage, don’t let a few rich people take away our public land.
— Stephen Schell
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