Anchorage airport wants to charge city to use snow dump
Many Alaskans are crossing their fingers for more snow this winter but some city officials may feel differently. That’s because there could be one less place to put the snow if Anchorage gets a lot of it.
Alan Czajkowski is the director of Maintenance and Operations for Anchorage. Czajkowski said for more than 25 years the city has used a snow dump on airport property off of Northwood Drive and never paid a fee.
But this year that could change. The airport wants the city to pay rent.
“It’s a large cost. They’re asking for $250,000 a year rental on this space of roughly 12 acres,” said Czajkowski. “It’s not in our budget, so it’s pretty tough to swallow.”
But airport manager John Parrott said the city should have been paying a long time ago.
“The airport didn’t wake up one morning and say, ‘OK, we need to charge the municipality for use of the snow dump,'” said Parrott.
According to Parrott, the property was given to the airport by the Federal Aviation Administration with the condition that it be used solely for airport purposes or be leased at fair market value. He said they haven’t charged before because the airport was hoping to do a land swap with the city.
The airport is interested in a piece of property near Point Woronzof Park, by the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, which could be used to expand a runway in the future. But community groups were against the idea and Mayor Ethan Berkowitz decided not to pursue the deal. Berkowitz also said he’s not interested in paying the airport to lease the land.
The city has other snow dumps it can use, but no others in west Anchorage, according to Czajkowkski. He said that’s likely to mean more in fuel costs if they have to shuttle snow further, plus there could be longer waits to clear snow on the west side of town.
“Instead of taking a 20 minute round trip it may be up to an hour if we have to go to south Anchorage or north Anchorage,” said Czajkowski.
Berkowitz has written a letter to the state Department of Transportation asking for help. Spokeswoman Shannon McCarthy said they are interested in working with the city to try and find a solution.
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