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A TALE OF TWO TRAILS The Lanie Fleischer Chester Creek and Tony Knowles Coastal trails By Steve Cleary B ack in the 1970s they were just ideas on paper. Today the Lanie Fleischer Chester Creek and Tony Knowles Coastal trails are ingrained in the landscape and are iconic to Anchorage its residents and visitors for biking and walking. Its hard to believe that back in the day some residents and politicians actually opposed constructing them. AN IMPORTANT LINK IN ANCHORAGE Lanie Fleischer after whom the Chester Creek Trail is named moved to Anchorage in 1971. I was running around town when I rst got here thinking there should be trails. Many people said you should do something about that says Fleischer. Soon thereafter she and former judge John Reese became co-chairs of the newly created Bike Day Committee. The group wanted a network of trails both for recreation and for bike commuting. We wanted to be able to bike safely to schools libraries and parks. We wanted to make it so that everyone didnt have to get in a car to go everywhere she says. I couldnt believe that I moved to Alaska and had to go every place in a car. The group put together a trails master plan that would among other goals connect all elementary and secondary schools via trails. Anchorage was rapidly developing and Fleischer saw a rare moment to advance the groups vision. There were no curbs no shouldersand lots of resistancebut there was also the ability to build and plan for trails. Public hearings abounded and trail advocates went to all of them. Back then people didnt think you could bike very far Fleischer says. At one meeting where she was advocating for trails Anchorage City Mayor George Sullivan asked her Young lady do you know how far that is She didnt actually know the specic length but she and the other supporters knew that the Chester Creek Trail would be an important link for Anchorage and a way for people of all ages to travel by bike and walk through the city. Anchorage Borough Mayor Jack Roderick supported the trail and arranged for purchase of land along Chester Creek. In 1973 the Chester Creek Trail was ofcially established. The Lanie Fleischer Chester Creek Trail parallels Chester Creek from Westchester Lagoon for four miles to Goose Lake. But back in 1973 there werent enough funds to build the whole trail and complete the tunnel under the Seward Highway. We thought the Highway Department would see all the mothers pushing strollers across the highway and be so horried that they would build the tunnel Fleischer says. Funding eventually came through and the tunnel and trail were nally completed in 1975. The trail was an instant success and was ofcially named after Fleischer in 1994. ClarkJamesMishler Lanie Fleischer is proud of her signature trail which was named after the trail activist in 1994. She is excited about the popularity of Anchorages trail system and sees it continue to become a viable alternative to cars for commuting as well as recreation. The City and Borough of Anchorage combined in 1975. While bits and pieces of the trail have been repaired over the decades the entire Chester Creek Trail will be resurfaced this summer for the rst time. For info on the resurfacing including detour maps and the proposed schedule head to DepartmentsParksPages ChesterCreekImprovements2.aspx. 12 BIKELIFE ANCHORAGE FUN STUFF