Westchester Lagoon Nature Trail Rehabilitation
1051 W. 19th Ave (Map)
Anchorage Parks and Recreation is rehabilitating a dilapidated ADA accessible neighborhood connector trail known as the Westchester Lagoon Nature Trail and trailhead parking lot located within Margaret Eagan Sullivan Park south of Chester Creek and east of Spenard Road. The main purpose of this project is to restore the trail corridor to its original intent of serving as a fully accessible ADA multi-use nature trail, providing access from the adjacent neighborhoods to the south banks of Chester Creek and connecting to the Bunker Street trail spur of the Lanie Fleischer Chester Creek Trail.
The existing Westchester Lagoon Nature Trail parking area, amenities, and trail are in unusable condition due to deferred maintenance, age, and tree root damage.This project includes maintenance rehabilitation of the parking lot, trail surfaces and the addition of lighting. The trail was originally constructed in 1977-78 as an ADA accessible multi-use nature trail. The existing 6-foot wide asphalt trail is to be repaved in the same location as the original trail.
Rehabilitation of the original “Accessible Nature Trail For All” was initially proposed by an active community member and project champion, Glen Hemingson, to re-establish the Westchester Lagoon Nature Trail as an accessible and functional public space. The potential to include improvements for environmental education, art, and nature observation by community groups was identified as part of the project proposal in its earliest stage and has garnered considerable support along the way.
In addition to advocating for the project and working closely with Anchorage Parks and Recreation Department, Glen has partnered with various community organizations to advance the project by presenting to, and receiving support from, both of the local community councils; North Star and South Addition.
The Anchorage Trails Initiative Schools on Trails program has identified the project as a pilot project for implementation and has committed to facilitating student education and outreach along the improved nature trail. For example, the project has already benefited from the removal of invasive species (Prunus padus or European Bird Cherry) along the nature trail corridor during an organized student and community work day with Stellar Secondary School in the fall of 2015. Additional work days dedicated to eradicating invasive species are anticipated.
This trail offers unique flora, fauna, wetlands, and access to nature in an urbanized location where creek flow slacks and water begins to pool in the Westchester reservoir. It is the point where still water first thaws in spring, progressing westward across the upper lagoon as temperatures rebound from winter. Ducks, geese, and moose are all present at various times of year, and songbirds abound during the summer months. The bog and creek shoreline offer a wide variety of flora providing a rich habitat for the salmon and trout living in the Chester Creek.
Funding Total: $727,000
Phase 1: 2015-current: Design and Engineering of entire project; construction of overlook deck “learning lab”, design/construction of interpretive signs and custom benches (to be installed after phase 2 asphalt renovation is complete).Phase 1 Total: $140k.
- $100k Salmon in the City Grant
- $40k Anchorage Park Foundation 2015 Challenge Grant
Phase 2: Summer 2019: Construction of trails, parking lot, lighting, and installation of amenities (signs, benches, trash cans, etc.). Phase 2 Total:$587k
- $470k Federal Highways Administration (FHWA) Transportation Alternatives Program (TAPS) grant through the Anchorage Metropolitan Area Transportation Systems (AMATS), to be administered by the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (ADOT&PF).
- $117k MOA Matching Funds
Construction is scheduled to begin in Spring 2019 and be completed by October 1, 2019.