Park of the Week #7: Chanshtnu Muldoon
After more than a decade, an east Anchorage neighborhood gets the park they’ve been fighting for. The North East Community Council – and the people behind the grassroots effort in east Anchorage say after a more than a decade of advocacy, their dreams are coming true.
It’s called Chanshtnu Muldoon Park. Chanshtnu is a Dena’ina word that means “Chester Creek” - which is a defining feature of the park. The land is part of the space that Alaska Greenhouses once owned. The business closed in the 1990s and the muni bought up much of the land in 2006.
Kristi Wood, the Parks Committee Chair of the North East Community Council, says the muni was set on selling the space for commercial and residential development. She says the community got involved and decided there was a better use – parks, or “anything better than more strip malls on Muldoon.”
“We’re surrounded by high-density residential development in this part of Anchorage," Wood said. "In fact almost 20 percent; I believe it’s 18.6 percent of Anchorage’s population lives in the vicinity of this park. That’s almost one out of every five people in Anchorage (who) can very easily walk bike to this park within minutes. Many of those people, of course, don’t have yards – their apartment complexes where they have no opportunity to garden or playground – so this gives them that opportunity.”
Wood says it took years of petitions and engaging people and asking them what they wanted to see in the park. The council made a list and the top three items that emerged were playgrounds, trails and a community garden. This 26-acre park has all of them, and there’s more to come.
The park, at DeBarr and Muldoon roads, backs up onto Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson land. This is a giant park with a giant heart.
Best for ages: Hard to tell right now. If you’re talking playground, 6-plus. My 1-year-old loved the all-inclusive slide, but struggled to find another play area he enjoyed. While there are relatively few structures to play on, there is so much more to do at this park. However, this is just Phase 1 of the project. There are three more phases, with an ice rink in the winter and a community garden planned for the summer. There's tons of green space for families of all ages to hang out.
Best feature: “Merry-go round push equipment.” While this is clearly not the correct or official word for this play toy, I don’t think it matters. My 4-year-old had so much fun on this she cried when I told her we had to leave. Here’s the concept: you push the round wheel that kids can sit on, and basically try to knock them off. (Adults: It’s kind of fun to walk on top of the wheel and see how long you can last.)
Best feature (2nd place): I am obsessed with the AstroTurf, which helps make the park all-inclusive. Wheelchairs can easily roll onto it – and parents will take their shoes off (it warms up under the sun) and join in on the fun. (I’ve even seen a parent or two (not naming names – OK, me) lying on their back on the ground and napping under the sun.
More than all-inclusive: Sounds and feels. There are features here I have never seen at any other park. Ride the willows and pound on the boxes. Kids are welcome to make music and explore in this park. I can’t wait to see what else happens here.
Extra pluses: There are two nice Port-a-Potties, and more than ample parking. The Muldoon Famer’s Market moves here from Begich Middle School staring June 23.
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