The Assembly for the Matanuska-Susitna Borough adopted its federal priority list Tuesday night.
Leading off the list are better roads and trails. The MAT-SU Borough leads the state annually in the number of highway fatalities. The Assembly recognizes the importance of making roads safe and combating congestion. The Borough was recently successful in securing federal and state funds for the extension of Bogard Road, which will provide a second east-west corridor between Palmer and Wasilla.
Also included is the proposed ski resort at Hatcher Pass with a request for a day lodge and trail system.
An agricultural food processing and development center is another priority. The ag center would, in part, create year-round markets for Alaska produce. Also on the list is the proposed South Side Denali Center, which will open new access to the south side of the Alaska Range. The Borough and the National Parks Service have been working on the project for more than 10 years. Borough Manager John Duffy said the Assembly will soon be able to take a position on a preferred site alternative. "We got this project back on the table," Duffy said.
The Assembly is also asking for help in managing erosion on the Matanuska River. Last summer close to 400 feet of riverbank collapsed into the state river, forcing one homeowner to lift his home off its foundation and move it.
Assemblywoman Lynne Woods represents the affected communities of Butte and Sutton. "I hope the federal government does help us fund a long-term solution," Woods said. The Assembly also seeks grants for law enforcement, prosecution, education, and treatment specific to the battle against the addictive drug methamphetamine.
Assemblyman Jim Colver said the drug is not only a state problem but also recognized as the number one drug enforcement problem in the nation. "It gives us another possibility to help combat this meth scourge in our community. There is no treatment, not enough prosecution." Colver said. Last year the greatest number of clandestine meth labs in the state were found in the MAT-SU.
The assembly showed restraint by paring the list from 11 to seven and unanimously adopting it. The Borough will seek funding from the congressional delegation for these projects.