In 2015 the Fairbanks North Star Borough (FNSB) purchased two contiguous lots adjacent to the Birch Hill Recreation Area (BHRA) with the intent of adding them to the BHRA (see attached maps at end). The lots cover the area northeast of, and in easy walking distance from the Ski Center, historically used for overflow parking during multiple editions of the Junior National Cross Country Ski Championships at Birch Hill. In order to add them to the BHRA, the lots need to be rezoned from “Rural Estate” to “Outdoor Recreation”. The Borough mayor, Bryce Ward, has requested this rezone. The rezone is a two-step process. First the FNSB Community Planning Commission will take public testimony on the rezone, then recommend (or not) the rezone to the Borough Assembly. The Assembly, in turn, will seek additional public testimony, then decide whether or not to approve the rezone.
The NSCF sees a variety of potential benefits for public recreation if the Borough successfully rezones the properties and they are added into the BHRA, including:
- Overflow parking on Lot 1A for major events held at Birch Hill instead of on the neighborhood roads,
- Winter access to the public trails not in use for ski races, which is often not possible due to the use of the stadium for the start and finish areas of competitive events, and
- A trailhead and small stadium on Lot 1A offering beginner-friendly access to easier trails that could be constructed to the east of the trailhead on military lands under license to the borough for trail development and maintenance.
The NSCF believes that potential impacts on the Wilderness Drive neighborhood would be mitigated/minimized as suggested by FNSB Parks and Recreation via:
- Not utilizing Lot 2A which fronts on Wilderness Drive for any proposed development, using it instead as a buffer between any development and the Wilderness Drive neighborhood.,
- Retaining the current 150-foot buffer of Lot 2A against the residential lot to the east of that lot.
- Accessing any development on Lot 2A from inside the current BHRA gate as proposed by Parks and Rec, instead of from the current gate and access on Wilderness Drive on the short section where that lot fronts on Wilderness Drive.
If you agree that there is a potential benefit to adding the lots to the BHRA, please consider providing written, telephonic, or in-person testimony to the Community Planning Commission hearing on September 26 and the Borough Assembly meeting on October 12.
For both meetings you can sign up to testify in person or telephonically by contacting the Borough Clerk’s Office at 907-459-1401 after the agenda has been published for the specific meeting and before 4:30 pm the day of that meeting. Written testimony for the Community Planning Commission hearing should be addressed to: Planning_Commission@fnsb.gov and for the Borough Assembly meeting at email@example.com. Written testimony for each meeting will be accepted once the agenda for that meeting has been published.
Map 1 PDF version: Picture1 copy
Map 2 PDF version: Picture2 copy