Friday, March 16, 2007

Local Jew Weighs In Against Anchorage Proposition 9 - Land Use Is The Central Issue

Beate Frankel Zinck, a resident of the neighborhood affected by the land trade proposed in Proposition 9, and who identifies as Jewish, has written a Compass column, published on March 15th, 2007, opposing the proposed land swap. Her primary objection is the size and scope of the proposed structure. While she (and most other neighborhood residents) do not object to the construction of a synagogue on the proposed piece of land, she is quite concerned about the possible construction of a full-scale Jewish historical museum and the pursuant traffic problems which could result, seriously distorting the peaceful residential character of the neighborhood. She also has misgivings about the environmental impact.

The Anchorage Daily News solicits submissions for Compass columns from its readers. Unlike a letter to the editor, which is limited to 225 words, a Compass column has a limit of 800 words, permitting the writer to develop a topic more fully. However, ADN publishes only one Compass column per day, versus up to 14 LTEs. Zinck's column is summarized below:

Summary: While Beate Zinck believes that an Alaska Jewish Historical Museum would be an asset to the city of Anchorage, she opposes the construction of this facility on city parkland. Consequently, she's urging city residents to vote against Proposition 9 on April 3rd.

She explains that the land requested by the Lubavitch Center/Alaska Jewish Historical Museum and Community Center (AJHMCC) through Proposition 9 is currently dedicated parkland and located in a residential neighborhood. If approved, the land exchange will result in the building of a 14,000-square-foot, two-story commercial facility on a lot owned by the Lubavitch Center/AJHMCC in the College Village subdivision.

The proposed complex actually includes a museum, a community center, a synagogue and a preschool/day care center, replete with parking lots on each end of the building with a total of 69 spaces. Both lots will empty onto 36th Avenue.

She cited traffic and drainage as the two major concerns of local residents. She considers the current traffic environment on 36th Avenue "too stressed" to handle the additional traffic expected as a result of the Center's operations. In addition, previous improvements around Otis Lake have triggered minor flooding of homes several blocks away, as well as more recent sinkholes in some nearby back yards. The proposed Center also clashes with current subdivision covenants restricting dwellings to residential use.

However, another reason Zinck decided to speak out publicly is because she's concerned that opposition to the Center might be characterized as "anti-Semitic", and she believes that lending a Jewish voice to the opposition will quash such charges. She also acknowledges that an earlier legislative appropriation of $850,000 for this Center has been viewed by some as skirting the proverbial "church vs. state" line. Ultimately, she urges people to view this as a land use issue rather than a diversity or religious issue.

Here is the complete text of Proposition 9, from the Election Page of the Municipality of Anchorage website. Note that a Yes vote would not result in any increase in property taxes, and, officially, no decrease in property values is expected (although if the anticipated problems materialize, property values would certainly decrease).


Shall the Municipality of Anchorage dispose of approximately one acre of dedicated municipal park land from the southwest corner of Tract A-1, Jacobson Park, located on 36th Avenue, for a one-half acre residential lot known as Lot 14, Block 14. When transferred, Lot 14 will be dedicated as park land, added to Jacobson Park, and preserved in perpetuity. The land exchange shall be based upon fair market values estimated by appraisal.

The Alaska Jewish Historical Museum and Community Center proposes to use the one-acre parcel of park land for public parking and access to Jacobson Park, and for private parking for new facilities. The exchange of the two (2) parcels is conditioned upon all required public approvals for the new facility being obtained from all federal, state and local agencies including, without limitation, a wet lands analysis with consideration of drainage and water levels in Otis Lake and the adjacent neighborhood as required for a permit from the Corps of Engineers; a Traffic Impact Analysis including consideration of pedestrian access to and from David Green Park; a Site Plan review by Planning and Zoning including a parking analysis; and Building permit review and issuance of all required building permits. Upon completion of the land exchange, the Alaska Jewish Historical Museum and Community Center agrees to donate $100,000 to the Municipality for park and trail improvements in Jacobson Park.

There is no cost to the taxpayers and no decrease in property values result from this exchange.

To be voted upon by all qualified voters residing within the Municipality of Anchorage,
(AO 2007-32 as amended).

Commentary: Beate Frankel Zinck is to be commended for diverting the emphasis of the opposition towards land use. The proposed center not only breaches the residential character of the neighborhood, but would require a zoning variance.

Zinck is also to be commended for taking issue with those few Jews who have tried to play the anti-Semite card in order to psychologically blackmail the community into voting Yes on Proposition 9. This must have been done strictly at the neighborhood level, though, because I've seen very little evidence of it. The Lubavitch Center website doesn't even address this issue.

Zinck is also to be commended for questioning the $850,000 legislative grant awarded for this center. This is one of the few occasions when the "church vs. state" argument have been applied outside the Christian community. Generally, only the Christian community has been held accountable to this distorted standard.

But what really stirred up the local neighborhood, as discussed in a previous post, was the willingness of the Anchorage Assembly to ramrod this issue through and rubber-stamp it. Dick Traini, one of two Assembly Members for the district, led the way, but he was assisted by the district's other Assembly Member, Dan Coffey. While Traini is not up for re-election this time, Coffey is running for re-election. Here is another reason for Midtown residents to consider the libertarian alternative, Jason Dowell. Dowell also has a personal blog under construction.

Vote No on Proposition 9 and vote Jason Dowell for Assembly on April 3rd.

1 comment:

  1. You know as well as I do that website for the Lubavitch Center wasn't set up to announce anything like the land swap. You also posted it under evil intent and believe me if there is any harrassment from this day forward you will be the first person the finger will be pointed at along with your buddies as being suspect.
    You can delete this but I'm keeping a copy of what I have said here for reference.
    Step very carefully you aging piece of "white" trash, it all might come back to bite you right on your ass!