The Juneau Assembly gave its financial blessing to the first phase of Juneau’s first off-road vehicle riding park on Monday night, with members voting unanimously to spend $300,000 to construct five miles of trails at the site located near 35 Mile Glacier Highway.
The trails will be constructed through a 175-acre site contained within a 565-acre tract owned by the City and Borough of Juneau that was a logging area during the 1950s-1960s. A CBJ summary of the project notes “it will likely take multiple years to build this phase, and subsequent phases will be mapped, planned, and permitted in the field.”
Approval of initial construction for a first-mile riding loop occurred in June when the Assembly Lands Housing and Economic Development Committee unanimously OK’d a resolution for the city manager to enter into an agreement with the Juneau Off-Road Vehicle Association for the management and maintenance tasks of the future park. The city also has identified nearly $1 million in total funds from various sources to cover the full cost of the first phase approved Monday.
”It’s been 20 years in the making, that citizens could ride powered vehicles off-road,” said Assembly member Wade Bryson. “For two decades it’s essentially been illegal. So for us to finally put some money into it, this is a really big deal.”
The park will be open to ATVs, Jeeps and dirtbikes during daylight hours during spring, summer and fall seasons, according to city documents. Planned features include a gated entrance, parking area, picnic area, caretaker RV, mud pit and cross-country area.
Questions about what property owners near the ORV site think about the park and potential environmental impacts were asked before Monday’s vote by newly elected Assembly member Paul Kelly. George Schaaf, the city’s parks and recreation director, said there are no property owners close enough to be affected by the park.
“The nearest home is about two-and-a-half miles to the south and then Echo Ranch Bible Camp is over four miles to the north.”
Schaaf said that, in addition to requirements such as a conditional use permit, multiple opportunities for public comments were available and there were “none specifically objecting to this location.”
“It has had remarkably broad support,” he said. “And we really haven’t heard any specific concerns from nearby neighbors about the proposal.”
• Contact Mark Sabbatini at firstname.lastname@example.org or (907) 957-2306.