Folker Park Site Plan & Construction Improvements
2701 E. 42nd Ave, Anchorage, AK 99508
NEWS: June 2019 Phase 1 - Construction has started! Anticipated completion: October 1, 2019!
Since the fall of 2016, this park has been going through a planning process to update the Site Plan and fundraise for improvements. The Site Plan Update was approved by all regulatory commissions and construction of Phase 1 began in June 2019! See below for more information on this exciting park development process.
Folker Park is a 2.02 acre neighborhood park located in the University Area neighborhood. Folker Park is sited in the north east corner of the intersection of East 42nd Avenue and Folker Street. Property to the west is the Providence Horizon House residential assisted-living home with approximately 80 elderly residents. Property to the north is an undeveloped site and is owned by the Anchorage Community Mental Health Services, Inc. Property to the east and south is residential, with a mixture of single and high-density housing units. The park serves as a transition area or buffer between the UMED District offices and the residential districts.
East 42nd Avenue is considered a local street, with heavy traffic from Tudor and Lake Otis Blvd. Folker Street and E. 42nd Avenue are stripped paved roads, with no existing cross-walks or sidewalks in the vicinity. Off-street parking is allowed in the right-of-way along the western boundary of Folker Park off of Folker Street and along the southern boundary along E. 42nd Avenue. There is a school bus stop located on the South side of the intersection at Folker St. and E. 42nd Ave.
History and Purpose
Park acquisition began in 1983 and the purchase of this parkland was completed in 1984. In 1990, a log cabin was removed by the city from the property. In 1996, the University Area Community Council worked with the Parks and Recreation Department to develop a concept site plan and priorities list. Today, Folker Park is a rich urban forested park consisting of a diverse mixture of deciduous and evergreen trees, native shrubs and ground cover. The park’s amenities include picnic tables, benches, bike racks, and a curvilinear 5-foot wide paved path along the south boundary and an inner forested two-foot wide soft-surface trail. The park also includes a seasonal “Adopt-A-Garden” raised planter bed on the southwest corner of the property.
In recent years, the park has seen an increase in negative activity. With the limited visibility due to the overgrowth of the forest and understory, lack of lighting, and over-grown heavily-rooted trails, the park has become a welcome host for the homeless. Transient circulation has worn a north-south connector path through the forest floor from the south to the northern undeveloped lot. Drug deals and other illicit criminal behavior has been reported to the Anchorage Police Department. In 2015, the neighborhood worked with the Parks and Recreation Department to remove much of the dead understory and improve visibility into the park. While the clearing activities improved sightlines, it also called attention to the lack of up-keep for the amenities, particularly the lack of ADA-access along the soft-surface inner loop trails.
In the fall of 2016, the Parks and Recreation Department initiated the Folker Site Plan Update. This update addresses community issues and provide a 5-10-year vision for the management, maintenance and development of the park.
For neighborhood parks, the Parks Department typically conducts our public outreach efforts in conjunction with input from local community councils who help us to identify a Community Advisory Group (CAG). Parks Staff has worked with both the University Area Community Council (UACC) and the CAG on this project since 2016. The Advisory Group included several residents of the Providence Horizon House, as well as neighbors who live and/or work within the UACC boundaries. When the CAG was formed several years ago, requests for participation went out to everyone in the community council. All advisory meetings were open to the public and we met approximately twice a month from September 2016 through Spring 2017, until the concept Site Plan was approved. Since then we have reduced our meetings to an as-needed basis, while the funding and construction documents develop.
Feedback was collected from a variety of other sources, for this project we conducted a unique data-driven site analysis. A Survey-Monkey survey was also conducted that was distributed to the entire community council and one-on-one interviews with not just the Advisory Committee, but also neighbors during various site visits and at local events.
- SurveyMonkey Questionnaire – distributed on the project website, Nextdoor App/website, Social Media, and the Uuniversity Area Community Council distributed mailings to all neighbors/businesses on their contact list in both digital and printed format;
- Several Rotary Club Meetings (Hillside Rotary club who meet monthly on Tudor, they are the closest club and had a special interest in the park);
- Regular Advisory Group Meetings (twice per month for approximately 7 months from 2016-2017);
- University Area Community Council meetings – regular updates;
- Playground Workshop – July 29, 2017 - public invited;
- “Fix-It" Event – summer 2017 with over 75 attendees;
- Reflexology Association of Alaska applied and won an Anchorage Park Foundation 2019 “Challenge Grant" to construct the Reflexology Trail.
- Years 1-2 (2017-18): Fundraising; survey, engineering/landscape architecture designs
Years 2-4 (2019 - 2023): Phased Construction as funding becomes avail.
Years 5-10 (2024-2030): Monitor, on-going maintenance
Site Plan Description:
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An “Intergenerational” Health and Healing Park that is ADA accessible and inclusive for all users.
ADA 8-Foot Wide Paths: 1 Fitness Path – 8 foot wide for ADA, must be either asphalt, concrete paved or ADA accessible boardwalk (a combination of materials is acceptable).
1 Healing Path – 8 foot wide for ADA or could have passing areas and a min. of 6 feet width, must be either asphalt, concrete paved or ADA accessible boardwalk (a combination of materials is acceptable). Symbolic references to the Celtic Healing Knot – symbolizing infinity and eternity.
Lighting: Lighting along the trails and at all trailheads, must be dark-sky compliant and down-casting to prevent light pollution.
Safety Call-box: at least one safety call box is requested in park,
Seating and Picnic Benches: to be sited throughout the park as they relate to areas, final seating designs to take in account need to ADA accommodation and increased amount for Seniors ,
Fitness Area: Intergenerational Fitness Equipment designed for all users
Welcoming Plaza: Icon Sculpture, Seating (must have backs and be designed to accommodate disabled users), Bright Perennial Flower beds,
Community Gardens or Perennial Flower Beds (located within Right-of way purview)
Water Access for Watering: spicket or equal (for keeping gardens alive)
Crosswalk: Suggested location to cross at intersection of E. 42nd Avenue and Folker Street from proposed welcoming plaza to southern boundary of the Providence Horizon House property (located under MOA Traffic Department’s purview)
Art Area: sculpture gardens, unique seating areas that allow for ease of access from plaza, Art could be rotating or permanent pieces.
Play Area: Nature or Artistic themed, non-obtrusive, younger users (toddlers to 12 yrs. old)
Outdoor Musical Instruments Area: Preferred chimes or equal, to be sited away from residential, ideally along path near play area. http://freenotesharmonypark.com/special-needs/music-therapy-instruments-for-older-adults/
Birding Area: Native plant buffer, opportunity for interpretive signs about plant and animal species, bird houses,
Reflexology Path: mosaic of stones, therapy skills area, tranquil “healing” area, http://www.pathsofhealth.net/
Bridge of Flowers: a mobility training bridge over “flower stream” to aid in climbing skills Stream of Flowers: “Forget-Me-Nots” (Myosotis alpestris) flowers are to be planted to mimic a stream formation through site, (Forget-Me-Nots, the official Alaskan state flower, also a symbol for the Alzheimer’s Association: http://www.alaska.org/advice/forget-me-not; http://www.flowermeaning.com/forget-me-not-flower-meaning/
Labyrinth Plaza: Ideally constructed of concrete or equal material, with in-laid labyrinth pattern detail
Forested seating wall in berm: west side to be a bench/retaining wall, keep existing trees, east side to be a subliminal seating space for watching events on the labyrinth plaza ,
Existing Vegetation: keep as much of the existing vegetation as possible. Where possible, construct around all healthy species and utilize best development and management practices to revegetate after construction with native species, as directed by professional landscape architect and arborist.
Fundraising goals: $300K-$500K estimate needed to realize all project goals. Available funds as of now:
- 2017 MOA Bond - $200,000
- LWCF Grant - @225,000
- 2017 APF Challenge Grant - $12,500** in matching grant
- Residual Funds APF - $30,000
- Private Donation - Music Equipment - $4,000
- 2019 APF Challenge Grant - $20,801.15** in matching grant (donations needed)
For donation inquiries, please contact the Anchorage Park Foundation at http://anchorageparkfoundation.org/ or call 907-274-1003. CLICK HERE to find out how you can support this exciting new project!
Please send comments and questions to:
Maeve Nevins-Lavtar, Senior Park Planner
632 W. 6th Ave, Suite 630
Anchorage, AK 99501