The debate is whether to allow snowmachine use in the Jodhpur Motocross Track at Kincaid Park. Despite being unusable by skiers, the matter has been opposed by ski enthusiasts including the Nordic Ski Association of Anchorage. Representatives from the association attended a previous public-comment hearing in January and spoke out against the proposal.
Area residents cited snowmachines' noise, mess, and safety as areas of concern.
"I have a real concern about the aggregate noise from 60 to 80 snow machines, which is what was mentioned by the gentlemen last month," Marilyn Howser said at the meeting.
Pat Kuckurtz, former president of the Anchorage Snowmobile Club, reminded committee members that the area is in town.
"We're allowed to be noisy during certain times in town," Kuckurtz said.
After five speakers had participated public comment was suspended, and Anchorage Assembly Chairman Ernie Hall, who had entered discreetly, was given the floor and the microphone.
He outlined a proposal to the situation that had been laid out by John Rodda, director of the city's Division of Parks and Recreation. The proposed solution involved a 70-acre piece of parkland, owned by the municipality, which Hall and Rodda said could be converted for use by snowmachine enthusiasts.
The area in question -- just east of Minnesota Drive and south of 100th Avenue -- is a much larger area than the Jodhpur track, which is around 18 acres. Hall said the land would much better accommodate the parking for trucks and trailers needed for to bring a snowmachine out to ride.
Erik Burney, the snowmobile club's current president, is familiar with the area and described it as a "suitable" solution.
"There's enough natural vegetation," Burney said. "And there's enough of a buffer space to insulate the few residences that are closest from the noise."
Hall and Rodda's suggestion was ultimately met with applause from those attending the meeting, with Rodda optimistic about a timeframe.
"Twelve months from now there's no reason why, if we work at it, we can't be prepared to actually put in a site," Rodda said.
Contact Nancy Lockwood