Monday, May 20, 2013
Governor Vetoes Funding for Popular Anchorage Lake
Waldron Lake Park seemed to have support from the mayor, the municipality, the community, and lawmakers, but the funding was still slashed.
As Governor Sean Parnell's veto pen struck through projects in all parts of the state, Anchorage residents who enjoy Waldron Lake are upset that funding for their park was cut. What’s the park’s future now? It could be sold.
On any given summer day, kids are out playing soccer or kickball in the field, as dog walkers and duck watchers meander around the lake.
The park seemed to have support from the mayor, the municipality, the community, and lawmakers, but the funding was still slashed because Parnell said Anchorage couldn’t fund maintenance on its parks.
Because of this apparent misunderstanding of facts, residents and lawmakers claim that Parnell flubbed up.
The Municipality of Anchorage agreed to buy the park from the Boys & Girls Club of Alaska if the group maintained it for 20 years and if they got state funding.
Waldron Lake resident and park user Cherie Northon said the funding slash could cost the city a very popular park. “I don't believe Governor Parnell read all the information that was given to him,” said Northon.
“We recognized that the municipality would be challenged to maintain that property so we offered and communicated to everybody we would be willing to maintain up for a period of 20 years,” said Alana Humphrey, interim CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Alaska.
Parnell said he vetoed the $4 million project out of the capital budget because of Anchorage’s finances.
“They can't even fund their own maintenance of their existing parks right now,” said the governor about Anchorage in a press conference in Juneau on Wednesday.
But for those involved with the lake, they say all he had to do was read the black and white.
“The Boys & Girls Club has offered under mutually-accepted agreement to maintain the property,” said Sen. Johnny Ellis, D-Anchorage. “He (Parnell) and his staff seem to be ignorant of the fact that the Boys & Girls Club very publicly, and in the budget language, had committed to maintaining this public space.”
“His OMB (Office of Management and Budget) director Karen Rehfeld is supposed to say, ‘hey Governor there are no operating costs for the muni—the Boys & Girls Club are going to take care of it.’”
“It is a disappointment to us that was the reason given because it’s not really a reason,” said Humphrey.
The municipal director of Parks & Recreation said Parnell is accurate about Anchorage’s resources being stretched to the max on maintenance of current parks.
Ellis said that losing an area used by the Anchorage Fire Department, soccer teams and everyday folks leaves the property open for purchase.
The Boys & Girls Club of Alaska has to sell the land to make up for lost funds but they're hoping a benefactor would buy it to give to the city and the organization would still maintain the lake park.
“One woman was in tears,” said Northon. “I can see it if there is going to be an expense involved, but there wasn't, and that's what we don't understand.”