A Letter from John Rodda: Yes on Prop 5, For the Future of Anchorage Parks and Trails

The rapidly evolving COVID-19 public health crisis is a situation we need to take very seriously. As we all do our best to keep our families and community healthy and safe, our parks and trails have an important role to play. The Anchorage Park Foundation and Anchorage Parks & Recreation staff care about the health and well-being of all of you: the parks and trails users we serve every day.

While much of the COVID-19 is still unknown, one message has been quite clear. Social distancing is the primary way to prevent the spread of the virus. Anchorage parks and trails offer an opportunity to do just that. We are blessed with an abundance of natural areas and open spaces that can help us maintain our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. It is our responsibility as responsible citizens and leaders in our field to do our part to “flatten the curve” and help slow the spread of this pandemic.

But while we are in the middle of this crisis, let’s not lose our vision for the future. Parks and trails are built and maintained with Park Bonds. Have you checked your mail? You should have received your ballot for the Anchorage Municipal Elections. As of April 1, 35,000 voters had cast their ballots in an election that could see up to 80,000 ballots cast. Voting by mail is quick and easy. You have until April 6 to drop it in the mail. April 7 is the last day to vote, but ballots need to be postmarked that day, or dropped in one of the 18 secure ballot boxes before 8 pm. If you did not receive your ballot, you can vote in person at City Hall’s accessible voting center until 8 pm on April 7.

Building and maintaining parks create jobs to spur our local economy. They generate contracts with local engineering, architecture, graphic design, construction, and landscaping firms. They turn into wages to help families get through these challenging times.

There are 13 Parks & Recreation projects on the bond that are slated to move forward this summer. They rely on your support and generosity of spirit to vote YES. Everything from trails to skate parks to updated playgrounds with special features that are accessible for all children and their families. The projects are located across the municipality as we try to reach every neighborhood to have a park within a 10-minute walk.

Projects include improving University Lake dog park and rehabilitating park natural resources, resurfacing Campbell Creek trail and improving signage, building bridges for safety at Far North Bicentennial Park and opening an inclusive playground, picnic facilities, and installing lighting at Tikishla Park. These are just a few of the projects that will happen this summer, but only if we vote YES.

Each year we ask you for authorization to spend a portion of your property taxes to support these projects. This year, it’s just $1.68 per $100,000 of assessed value on your home to support $3.9 million in park infrastructure. That’s a smart return on investment.

Parks and trails have a restorative power and are vital to the health and well-being of Anchorage residents. We will get through this crisis together, and our natural areas and open spaces will help us heal. For our peace of mind now and a better economic future, I encourage you to vote YES on Prop 5.

-John Rodda
Retired Director, Anchorage and Eagle River/Chugiak Parks & Recreation