Ice Alaska wants Fairbanks riverfront development

Posted: Sunday, September 05, 2010

FAIRBANKS - Ice Alaska is pushing for a massive development along the Chena River in Fairbanks to help maintain a home for its annual ice sculpture contest.

Ice Alaska Chairman Dick Brickley told the borough assembly Thursday the nonprofit organization would lead a lobbying effort in Juneau to promote the development. He wanted to know if the assembly is behind him.

"This is not intended to be about Ice Alaska," Brickley said, "it's intended to be about the future of Fairbanks."

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports the development would include a riverwalk with stores and restaurants in summer and a park with ice sculptures in winter.

Ice Alaska hosts the annual World Ice Art Championships and is a longtime Alaska Railroad Corp. tenant on land along the Chena River.

But lease negotiations for Ice Alaska have hit an impasse, and the railroad has rejected offers to sell or swap the land.

Brickley wants the Legislature to bypass the state-owned railroad and authorize a sale or swap.

"We are willing to spend our own money to go and meet with every legislator to try and do this and convince them that this is a good thing for our community," Brickley told the assembly. "What do you want us to do?"

Assembly members gave no immediate answer, but some asked questions.

Assemblyman Guy Sattley asked if Ice Alaska could move.

Brickley said the organization considered moves to the fairgrounds, North Pole and vacant land along the Tanana River but the cost, about $8 million or $9 million, is too great.

Assemblywoman Kelly Brown asked if Ice Alaska has had offers to host the annual ice sculpting championships in Anchorage.

"They would love to, but the reality is they couldn't," Brickley said. "They don't have the weather."

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