A Well-Loved Community Destination
Russian Jack Springs Park is one of Anchorage’s oldest and most popular parks. Developed in the early 1950s, the park has been an anchor of community, recreation and gathering.
The park features developed facilities and natural areas providing opportunities for year-round recreation. It is approximately 300 acres and is divided by Debarr Road forming a north and south Russian Jack Springs Park that is connected by a paved multi-use trail, with a wide variety of activities and recreation options. The area the park lives on also has a storied past, including housing a bootlegging operation and a prison farm, giving it a nostalgic aura and historical value.
Preserving a Natural Recreational Area
Since the park was first developed, Anchorage’s population has grown more than ten-fold. As the population has grown, former wildlands have become developed, creating a stronger demand for recreational facilities. Despite the growing demand for recreational facilities, there has been an equally-strong desire to maintain the character of Russian Jack Springs Park as a natural area.
To ensure the park is preserved, while allowing for new uses that meet the desires of the community, The Anchorage Parks and Recreation Department is updating the park master plan. Developed in 1979 and last updated in 1997, the plan will provide a 20-year vision for the future of the park. It will identify current and future needs, address issues and concerns, and establish a framework for future management, maintenance and development of the park. R&M is working with Anchorage Parks and Recreation to create a community-driven Plan update that honors the history of the park. We are leading planning, advisory group facilitation, greater community outreach and master plan development.
Stewardship and protection of the high value natural resource use areas to the less developed parts of the Park, south of Debarr Road, is one of the main goals of the master plan. Improving the community’s use of the Lydia Selkregg Chalet, and the areas around it, including optimizing circulation to the Mann Leiser Municipal Greenhouse, are also important for honoring the park’s history and past as we modernize those uses for today’s and future users.
Ensuring Community Vision
Due to the long history of the park, making any changes can be difficult. Families have made numerous memories there, some over several generations, creating nostalgia for what it was. But there is also excitement and hope for its potential to become an even greater asset. Newer uses, such as the skatepark, golf and mountain biking, have made Russian Jack Park more of a destination and show some of this potential for growth. R&M is also working with the public through an intensive public involvement effort to maximize this excitement and ensure the community’s voices are heard. The Plan development process included iterative community input through two public workshops, online surveys, outreach to community councils and area schools, social media updates and a community advisory group that met four times in the past year.
The Master Plan is currently being drafted. A public review draft is anticipated to be released in the fall of 2020. The review and approval process will follow with implementation set to begin in summer 2021.
Learn more about and view project documents at: https://www.muni.org/Departments/parks/Pages/RussianJackSpringsParkMasterPlanUpdate2019.aspx
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