Hello trail supporters,
You have a chance to speak up in support of trails in the Fairbanks Borough. The Fairbanks Borough Assembly is planning to cut the Fairbanks Parks and Recreation budget by nearly $250,000.
The Assembly did not specify where within the department the cuts should take place, so no trail-specific projects are on the cutting board. And so far the borough plans to keep its trails coordinator and two project coordinators, all at full-time.
However, any major cuts to the Parks and Recreation Department will affect trails indirectly at minimum. The department is the main department that deals with trails in the borough. Trail projects or trail-related projects the department is working on include:
Tanana Lakes Recreation Area (which will include several motorized and non-motorized multi-use trails)
Isberg Recreation Area (a trails rec area which will include motorized and non-motorized multi-use trails)
The 100-Mile Loop Trail
Skyline Ridge Park (a proposed park that would include motorized and non-motorized multi-use trails)
Easement acquisition and other administration of the Equinox Marathon Trail.
I appreciate the Assembly’s desire to keep property taxes low. But this cut to the Parks and Recreation Department will make very little, if any, difference to property tax bills. And since no specific cuts were recommended, the philosophical basis for the cut must be simply that some Assembly members think the Parks and Rec budget is too big. If you agree, then you are certainly free to support the cut. (The Assembly has also proposed cutting budgets within the community planning, animal control and transportation departments. Those cuts range from $65,000 to $100,000.)
However, I disagree that the budget for the Parks and Recreation Department is too big. Trails and other aspects that the department deals with are a huge part of the quality of life in the Fairbanks area. For years we have benefited from these things with little oversight. However, as Fairbanks grows trails and wooded areas are being lost to development. If we are to keep a good quality of life, we need to make sure that development includes trails and parks. Heck, trails and parks enhance that development. Protecting that type of public quality of life a legitimate function of government.
All this would be debatable if the borough budget was skyrocketing. But the budget Mayor Luke Hopkins submitted to the Assembly is less than 1 percent larger than the budget of the previous year. Again, less than 1 percent. Considering all pressures to raise the budget even more, including rising fuel prices, I think Hopkins has done a good job in keeping the budget in line.
Fortunately, the budget is not yet finalized. The Assembly will be holding a public hearing on Thursday, May 3. After that hearing, amendments can be made to the budget. Whatever your thoughts on the size of the Parks and Recreation Department budget, I encourage you to let the Assembly know how you feel. The members will listen.
There are a couple of ways to speak your mind:
Attend the meeting. Each person has 3 minutes to speak. Meetings start at 6 p.m. and are held at the Fairbanks Borough’s main building at 809 Pioneer Road. (Please note that the Illinois Street construction project makes getting to the building more difficult. See this page for more information: http://co.fairbanks.ak.us/hottopics/BAC ... %20(2).jpg)
Call or email Assembly members. Phone numbers and email addresses are at: http://co.fairbanks.ak.us/assembly/members.htm
However you feel. Make sure to let the Assembly members know. Strong democracies depend on citizens speaking up.
President, Interior Trails Preservation Coalition
Editor, Interior Trails Quarterly
We all hate it, but its forced upon us. Any local political issues we should know about ??
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