If you read the News-Miner on March 24, or their editorial the next day, you’ve probably found out that Ice Alaska is planning to move our beloved Ice Park south of town, to the Tanana Lakes Recreation Area.
Currently, I’m just close enough to walk to the Ice Park. It’s in the range of 30 or 45 minutes away — which is walkable on a not-too-cold day — and much closer to those who live near the pedestrian bridge outside Pioneer Park.
But will anybody — anybody AT ALL — be able to walk to the Ice Park when it’s at Tanana Lakes?
Has the Borough arranged for convenient public transit that will take people there and back? Currently, the closest bus to Tanana Lakes is the Purple Line, which reaches Cushman and Van Horn about 10 minutes after leaving the Transit Center. That puts the nearest stop over a mile away — about 20 minutes’ walk for a healthy adult on a decent path. While 20 minutes’ walk in the cold is acceptable occasionally and for some people, it is not a good way to ensure access for the elderly, the disabled, and families with children, or to ensure frequent access from anybody. Given that the Purple Line runs hourly at best, and that our buses are not exemplars of punctuality (which means a wait in the cold after the walk to the stop), this is hardly dignified treatment of the car-free.
To be fair, I should say that the Ice Park in its current location is served only by the Yellow Line, which stops at that location only four times a day (three on Saturdays). So, in terms of frequency of service, this seems to be an improvement. However, I hope that Ice Alaska and the Borough can do better than offer people half an hour of cold and discomfort both before and after their visit.
The Ice Park is one of the uniquely wonderful things about Fairbanks. It should be in a central location and easily accessible to all.