Assembly gives $8K for sled hill


With the future of a favorite winter recreation site in jeopardy, the Haines Borough Assembly stepped in Tuesday to ensure the sledding hill on Mount Riley Road remains open for those looking to play on a snowy day.

The assembly voted unanimously to devote up to $8,000 toward the creation of a sledding hill running parallel to Mount Riley Road. The project requires use of a tract of borough land 100 feet wide and 1,200 feet long.

The money will go toward cutting trees, removing stumps and creating parking areas at the top and bottom of the hill.

The hill has been used by children and families for sledding and skiing for years because of its steep angle and, more importantly, because it isn’t plowed or sanded. However, the road will be plowed and sanded during the upcoming winter due to the development of a residence at the top of the hill.

Several avid users of the hill turned out Tuesday to express their support for the plan, including Rich Chapell, who said the area would help keep children from sledding on streets also being used by cars and snow machines.

“For families that stay (in Haines) all winter, it’s been a very important site,” Chapell said.

Residents Courtney Culbeck and Daymond Hoffman also spoke in support of the sledding hill, citing safety factors and the project’s consistency with the borough’s Comprehensive Plan.

The Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee and Haines Ski Club also submitted letters expressing support of the project.

Assembly member Jerry Lapp asked about the borough’s liability if children were to injure themselves on the hill, but executive assistant to the manager Darsie Culbeck reported staff consulted with the borough’s insurance company, which said the borough could not be held liable.

The insurance company “only suggests that warning signs be posted stating that ‘sledding, skiing, and snowboarding can be hazardous to your health, children should be supervised by an adult, and that any use of this area is at your own risk,’” Culbeck said.

Donnie Turner, who is building a residence at the top of the road, has agreed to help with stumping and development of the project for a reduced rate. Turner estimated the cost of his work at $10,000 to $12,000, but agreed to work for half that.

Scott Rossman also agreed to cut trees on the property in exchange for the firewood.

Requests for proposals will still be required for both portions of the project, Culbeck said.

Though the initial proposal submitted by Culbeck asked the $8,000 to come from the borough’s trail development fund, assembly member Debra Schnabel objected.

A funding source is yet to be identified, though chief fiscal officer Jila Stuart said she would likely have a recommendation by the next assembly meeting.


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