Matanuska-Susitna Borough

Big Lake Comprehensive Plan—Best in State

Mat-Su | Frankie Barker, Planner | Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Big Lake Community has much to be proud of in recent years with the successful 2009 update of their comprehensive plan and the many activities that have followed to enhance their community. On Nov. 13, 2012, the Alaska chapter of the American Planning Association presented the Big Lake Community Council, Agnew:Beck consultants, and the Matanuska-Susitna Borough Planning Division with an award for the best comprehensive plan in the state. 

Cindy Bettine, former Assembly Member from Big Lake, spoke on behalf of the award recipients commenting on how the large, dedicated planning team of Big Lake residents made the plan possible. “The Big Lake comprehensive plan lays the ground work for planned growth and sets general goals for the type of community the full time and weekend residents want in the future.  It outlines the importance of Big Lake’s recreational base and blends the important infrastructure needs to retain community character,” Bettine said.

Assembly Member Darcie Salmon represents Big Lake.  "It's well deserved. The Big Lake Community works very hard to preserve the integrity and character of Big Lake—the crown jewel of the Mat-Su Borough," Salmon said.

The update of the 1996 comprehensive plan took two years from start to final approval by the Mat-Su Borough Assembly. Planner Frankie Barker and Transportation Division Manager Brad Sworts led the effort. The community initiated the plan update since they anticipated several major projects likely to bring short and long term change to the community. The public involvement plan for the process was robust with more than 40 members of the community signing up to participate in the planning team. One of the most useful outreach tools was a graphic “guidemap” poster summarizing the issues, goals, and process of the comprehensive plan that was widely distributed in the area.

The planning process built relationships within the community and addressed a diverse set of local, regional, state and federal policies. Community leaders have incorporated or used outcomes of the plan as a foundation for a number of other projects in the community.

The Big Lake Community Council’s transportation committee had success in implementing the transportation section of the plan by recommending to the State that funds be reallocated to the Borough so the South Big Lake Road realignment can begin. Construction is expected this summer. Recommendations from the plan are being implemented by the new Big Lake Trails work group, the water quality improvement project, the Big Lake Incorporation Process, the Big Lake Community Impact Assessment and the Big Lake Community Council.