ANCHORAGE - A compromise to turn part of a proposed 60-acre nature preserve into land for development is meeting resistance from a conservation group claiming any changes to the preserve would unravel its funding.
The Great Land Trust conservation group and the city of Anchorage have together been raising money for the purchase of 60 acres at the Campbell Creek estuary from private owners for $6.8 million.
The city and the conservation group began working together in 2008, but Dan Sullivan was elected mayor in 2009 and has said he doesn't want the city to participate. Sullivan said 15 to 20 acres of the land should be used for housing, which would boost property tax revenue.
Great Land Trust executive director Phil Shephard said any property tax revenue from new housing would be offset by additional infrastructure costs like roads and schools.
"It's a wash," Shephard said.
The conservation group would lose or be forced to reapply for the money it has already secured if it sets aside acres for housing, Shephard said, and the private owners selling the property have agreed to the sale on the condition that it be kept as a park.
"At this point if we change it we lose so much funding that it makes the project not feasible," Shephard said
The trust faces a Nov. 30 deadline set by the landowners to close the deal.
Shephard told a member of the Anchorage Assembly that if forced to renegotiate its funding, it has "zero" chance of making the deadline, and that only $2.1 million of the money would still be available if some of the property were to be dedicated to development.
The land surrounds a stretch of Campbell Creek in Anchorage that flows into Cook Inlet, consisting of undeveloped tidal flats and old growth forest.
Conservationists have said that if the area is turned into a park, it will be a convenient access point to the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge, on which one-third of the 60-acre property lies.
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