SPRINGHILL ELEMENTARY SCHOOL OPTION
Here is information on a very good alternative to putting Simonian Little League fields in Bicentennial Park. The area in "Section 16" behind Springhill Elementary has only recently been given adequate attention. This is site #31 in the Municipality's report done by Land Design North.
Looking at the map at the right, it's generally the area to the left and above the "S" in "Springhill" in the lower right part of the map. The parts of that area that are not colored green are, in the top left corner, a church, and below that, Hanshew Middle School and Springhill Elementary.
The area behind Sprinhghill and was examined by Ted and Ian Moore. They submitted the following letter to Assemblywoman Janice Shamberg.
To see a map of the area with a plan for ballfields, click here.
February 11, 2002
Janice C. Shamberg
Anchorage Municipal Assembly
PO Box 196650
Anchorage, AK 99519-6650
Dear Ms. Shamberg:
I have been requested to make an independent assessment of the technical feasibility of developing Little League Ballpark facilities in Ruth Arcand Park at a site east of Spring Hill Elementary School. This site is a minor modification of the boundaries of Site 31 identified by Land Design North (LDN), which they had rejected on the basis of its "rolling character". In conducting this investigation I utilized available Municipal contour mapping, which have a 2-foot contour interval, in conjunction with other mapping showing property boundaries, wetlands designations, and soil types. I also reviewed various Section 16 planning documents.
The enclosed map delineates one possible configuration of ballfield facilities. For consistency with other planning documents I included the same array of ballfields as have been proposed for the Far North Bicentennial Park (FNBP) site. One small difference is that the proposed configuration does not involve any overlap between the soccer field and one of the baseball fields. I used the same ballfield sizing criteria and slope criteria that were set forth by LDN in their report. The proposed layout is compact in order to minimize walking distances from existing parking facilities and schools. While the proposed permit boundaries enclosing the suggested layout encompass an area of a little less than 15 acres, it should be noted that several additional acres of suitable terrain are available to the south and east of the proposed boundaries.
Slopes: The LDN report recommends that slopes greater than 10 percent should be avoided for field development to reduce costs and aesthetic impacts. All of the terrain underlying the proposed ballfields has less than a 10 percent slope - in fact the vast majority has slopes of 5 percent or less.
Wetlands: The map delineates approximate wetland boundaries as derived from the 1995 Anchorage Wetlands Plan. Because these boundaries are based on aerial photo interpretation they are subject to adjustment on the basis of necessary field studies prior to development. For example, the designated wetland boundary just east of the proposed senior field cuts up and across a distinct topographic rise rather than contouring around the base of the upland. While more detailed field investigation in the spring will be necessary to fine tune the wetland boundaries, it is my opinion, based on walking through the area of the proposed facilities, that there are no wetlands in the areas designated for ballfields.
The vegetation in the proposed area is a mixture of black and white spruce and birch. Black spruce, of which there is a significant amount, is often associated with wetland areas, however birch generally is found on well-drained soils. Black spruce is widely distributed throughout the Anchorage Bowl area on a variety of soils. In 15 years of soils investigations for on-site septic systems I have encountered numerous instances where black spruce vegetation is underlain by well-drained sandy soils.
Soils: The 1972 USGS "Generalized Geologic Map of Anchorage and Vicinity" classifies the soils in the proposed ballfield area as "alluvium", defined as generally well-bedded and well-sorted gravel and sand. The 1982 Section 16 Park Development Master Plan classifies the soils primarily as well drained "Homestead Silt Loam" along with some Torpedo Lake gravelly sandy loam, which may evidence a shallow water table. All of these classifications are based primarily on air photo interpretation.
Trails: The 1985 "Section 16 Park Trails Master Plan" prepared by Land Design North calls for equestrian trails to be concentrated in the northeast quadrant of Section 16 with several "Primary Equestrian Access Trails" radiating out from there; none of these come close to the proposed ballfield area. The LDN plan also recommends several cross-country running/skiing trails in or near to the proposed ballfield area. The enclosed map identifies a couple of trails in the vicinity of the proposed ballfields that are presently groomed for skiing or ski-joring. Some of these may receive equestrian use in the summertime. In laying out the proposed facilities I attempted to do so in such a way as to avoid conflict with these existing trails. It is possible that other walking, skiing or running trails could be routed around the ballfield areas with minimal conflict.
Based on the above analysis I believe, from a technical viewpoint, that this site does offer a viable alternative to the proposed Little League development site in FNBP. Its proximity to three schools is a definite plus, as is the fact that access and parking already exist. There appears to be sufficient suitable terrain for a variety of configurations to accommodate specific user needs.
Ted Moore, P.E.
The following information is from Jim Barr in two emails January 1 and 6, 2002
I did some rough on-site measurements, and it looks like the developable area is between 19 and 27 acres. The land is actually very flat and level, with the exception of one elevation change of about 25 feet. The area is flat from the school fence back about 110 yards into the park, it then drops about 25ft., and then continues on the level for 150 to 180 yards, at which point it slopes down to the wetlands in the lower elevations of the park.
We spent about an hour there, and saw no other people, and no signs of significant usage. The developed fields at the school and the adjacent church show no signs of use.
We then went directly to the site in the corner of Bicentennial Park to compare topography. In less than twenty minutes we saw fifteen people; three on bikes, one skier, one skijorer, and the rest walkers.
The topography at Bicentennial Park is much more varied, with constant ten to thirty foot elevation changes.
Duane Adams ruled out the Spring Hill site as too hilly, but the Bicentennial site is much worse. The Spring Hill site was added to the study based on public comment late in the process, and Duane may just not have had time and funds to take an adequate look at this location. Maybe the Assembly should fund a couple of thousand dollars for him to go take another look, and draw up a site plan and cost analysis. If we use parking at the school, and consider the fact that water is already run to the school, this could be a fairly inexpensive site to develop (less than Bicentennial Park.)
Also, Ruth Arcand is an active rec. park, with the golf course, Abbott o Rabbit ball fields, equestrian area, and a community park already developed within its boundaries.
So, the MOA owns the land, it's next to a school, it's within the boundaries of a Town Center, the park is "active rec." already, no group is currently using this site, we can share parking with the school rather than building more, it would give the school more field space, and it's right on the boundary of the Simonian League (just like Bicentennial Park.) It is definitely worth pursuing.
I spoke with Dwayne Adams late Friday afternoon. He was gracious enough to go do a quick physical inspection of this site and re-evaluate the LDN report's findings. He determined that the contours (topography) are not a problem. That was the reason that the site was initially ruled out. Dwayne does have some other concerns (disturbance of equestrian activities, vague wetlands boundaries on the wetlands maps, and the fact that Spring Hill Elementary does not have enough parking to accommodate the entire needs of a community park.) All valid points, but probably no show stoppers or high cost elements.
There are some concerns with the site. The area is healthy spruce/birch forest, and it would be preferable to use already disturbed land. It does not add to the inventory of park acreage in this area. One of the main reasons that we are faced with the current problem is the failure to add park acreage in the Abbott Loop sub-area, as recommended in the 1982 Parks Plan and the recent LDN study. It also does not serve many secondary purposes, such as buffering light industry from residences (although there could be some secondary benefits to the School System, plus additional Ruth Arcand trail access.) We do also want to be certain that the equestrians agree to any site plans, and are involved in the process. We are trying to avoid displacing any users' group, and we are fairly certain that we can find at least one alternate to Bicentennial Park that will do that.
This site is certainly a very viable alternate to Bicentennial Park, and is worthy of further examination.
Several assembly members are taking a very serious look at this site (#31), since it would not require land acquisition.
The following is from Cortland A Broberg PE CE/LS; 15 year Little League veteran; retired January 5, 2002
Here is some more information on section 16 which is approximately bounded on the south by O'Malley, west side by Lake Otis, north side by Abbott Road and east side by a line projected south from Abbott Loop Road.
I assisted building the first three ball fields for A-O-R in a gravel pit located at Lake Otis and O'Malley in early 1980s. MOA set aside section 16 at that time for the purpose of sports activities. A-O-R continued to grow. A golf course, Equestrian Center, Spring Hill elementary and Hanshew Junior High followed. Other parts of section 16 remain unused for the specified purpose of sports activities.
Availability of possible sites in section 16 is not news to Parks and Rec or P & Z. I have testified about it, written about it, talked to and sent a letter to Duane Adams of Land Design North about it and I talked to P & R employees about it. The word I received back from MOA employees was that space available was inadequate and it involved class "A" wetlands so it could not be used. Based on a sketch by Land Design North they looked at a small portion of section 16 immediately adjacent to the existing play area near the Equestrian Center. It appeared they did not try very hard to look at all land in section 16 available along Abbott Road.
I have been promoting use of Section 16 for these ball fields since I first jumped into the fray. My choice was along the south side of Abbott Road from Abbott Loop Road to the church site near Lake Otis. Any wetlands that may exist can be readily incorporated into the design. Generally I walk the horse trail system about once a week. I am not an expert at classifying wetlands but I find it difficult to visualize a great deal of Class "A" wetland being involved in this area. A determination for classification of wetlands should be requested from the Corps of Engineers if this area is to be used. With a bit of creative design and planning the entire facility can be located here.
Mr. Posey of Parks and Rec commented on use of a small portion of section 16 that was addressed by Land Design North near the Equestrian Center when P & R came up with their 5-5 split vote. He referred to this area as being "a hard sell" and the issue was pretty much dropped. I interpret this statement to mean it's easier to get ball fields past homeowners living near the SW corner of FNBP than it is to fight Equestrian users.
If the site in section 16 which Jim Barr looked at is used the equestrian problem is pretty much eliminated. However there will be objections from Little League that the fields would be located outside of league boundaries.
If the area along Abbott Road is used there really is no legitimate problem but there will probably be some issues raised. At least it is closer to their population center than the SW corner of FNBP.
When you combine the area Jim looked at with the area I looked at, both located in section 16, it appears that the possibilities are endless for locating ball fields soccer fields and a great deal more.
Horse trails can be relocated as necessary to fit in with new facilities. You can see what I mean if you walk the horse trail going west from the equestrian center access road. An existing play area is located approximately 600 to 700 feet south of the south edge of Abbott Loop Road right-of-way. This would provide adequate room for fields with a 60-foot base line.
As you move to the west along this horse trail, beyond the existing play area, you will find a great deal of unused space located south of the trail. The trail continues to the west past a trail intersection with one branch to the south. As you continue west from the intersection another couple of hundred yards you cross through a low area and a small creek. The trail then swings south again. Most of the low area, other than along the creek, can be walked in tennis shoes during summer months so it should not be a problem to obtain a permit for ball fields. Just overlay the area with a surcharge and let it settle.
I have not walked the area located west of the creek (where the trail swings south). What is seen from Abbott Road is more unused land all the way to the church at Lake Otis. There are a few areas here (not the entire area) that I believe were broad brushed as class "A" wetland on maps. If COE completed a wetlands determination on the entire area I think you will find most of the wetland areas fall into a less stringent classification and can be permitted for use. There are also ridges and higher areas that would be suitable for sport fields and/or other uses.
You may also wish to look at an area that is located south of Abbott Road between Abbott Loop Road and the Equestrian Center access road. You could utilize a lot of area available here by relocating a horse trail that runs to the east of the access road a short distance and then swings south.
If you would like a guided tour I would be happy to accommodate any one who would like to look at this area.
Please keep in mind; the time schedule submitted by Simonian supporters is invalid because there are ways for SLL to schedule temporary accommodations for their players if fields are not ready by 2004! Scheduling may be inconvenient but certainly not impossible. They should address those temporary schedule issues now not wait until 2004.
I do agree with Jim Barr. He raised some interesting points in his email to Tim Pryor on 01/01/02. I feel that a decision to not amend FNBP master plan to allow high intensity sports activities is important for the integrity of FNBP.
It should not be decided to amend the master plan based on incorrect premises and reckless allegations of those who do wish to amend the master plan.
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