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North Star Community Council History
North Star Community Council has a long history of success in its small but lively part of our city that is located between the downtown and midtown neighborhoods of Anchorage.
North Star pressured the Salvation Army to relocate a counseling center that had been located at the corner of Spenard Road and Hillcrest Drive. Counselees were in the streets all day and into the night. In 2001, the new tenant parked buses all over residential streets. In the winter they plowed snow into the street. Today the building is occupied by a business appropriate to the area.
North Star has put pressure on area liquor stores to clean up their operations. It has also cooperated with several stores to identify inebriates. North Star helped put a troublesome liquor operator out of business ("A "Street between Fireweed and Northern Lights) and prevented Tesoro from opening a liquor store two lots away at their new gas station at Northern Lights and A Street less than two years later. Mike Huelsman spearheaded a committee to address the problems of the homeless in camps.
Barbara Pepek led the effort to paint the mural on the Romig Hill retaining wall back in 1999. Barbara is now leading another group to repaint the wall.
North Star folks helped make the Duck Walk at Westchester Lagoon a reality. This place is a much cleaner and safer place for ducks and people today.
North Star has a long history of working with North Star Elementary School. North Star residents work in the school, read to kids there, and cooperate with the school on cleanup efforts, particularly on the infamous stairs down the bluff and cleaning up inebriate camps. NSCC volunteers have helped with the school’s health fair.
North Star’s kids learn about community service at a young age: when she was in elementary school in 1997, West High graduate Esther Perman made sure that Valley of the Moon Park got a new rocket when the old rocket was removed.
We are thankful that former State Representative Mike Doogan was able to put money in the FY2009 State of Alaska capital budget for the upgrade of the heavily used Valley of the Moon Park and got money to buy snow clearing equipment to clean Anchorage's sidewalks. Good work, Mike! The Valley of the Moon Park renovations have been completed with a new picnic pavillion and many new climbing toys for children of different ages. North Star residents joined with South Addition folks and the Anchorage Parks Department to develop a master plan for developing the park.
Working closely with the Spenard Community Council, we encouraged Mayor Berkowitz and the Assembly to improve the safety and efficiency of the northern end of Spenard Road. Former Mayor Mark Begich completed a project in September 2010 to reconstruct Spenard Road from 30th Avenue (one block south of Benson Boulevard) to the north up to Chester Creek (just north of West 19th Avenue.) A separated and protected bike trail down Romig Hill (between Hillcrest Drive and West 19th Avenue) and a pedestrian bridge over Chester Creek help keep bikers and walkers safely away from the busy road while connecting them to the Chester Creek trail system.
The larger road renovation includes wider sidewalks and better pedestrian crosswalks on the portion of the project between Hillcrest Drive south along Spenard to Northern Lights Boulevard, Benson Boulevard and West 30th Avenue.
Ernie Hall worked diligently to seek a compromise on the Spenard Road project. Thank you, Ernie, for putting safety first!
A HUGE thank you to former Mayor Ethan Berkowitz for pushing through the long-awaited redevelopment of Spenard Road. And another HUGE thank you to Anchorage voters for supporting the road bonds in April 2016 that meant a safer, more efficient Spenard Road was built in 2017!
Now we are closely with the Spenard Community Council to encourage a safe design for the portion of Spenard Road between Benson Boulevard and Minnesta Drive. The design is not completed yet but calls for a three-lane road with space for wide sidewalks and bike lanes. Construction has been funded and could be complete in three or four years. Great news, indeed.
The Number One Priority for our council at this time is the reconstruction of Fireweed Lane. Design has been funded but has not yet begun. We expect the first public design meeting to be held during the fall of 2023, with the design process continuing for a year or so. Construction has not yet been funded and has therefore not been scheduled. We need a Fireweed Lane that is safe for all who use the street, including pedestrians and those on bikes.
Wow! We’re busy in this neighborhood! Notice that many of our successes were the work of a single person who advocated for a better neighborhood. Without the sanction of the Community Council system, it is unlikely these individuals would have been able to do as much good for the community.