Tanana Lakes Recreation Area undergoes expansion project
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - On Thursday, June 1, representatives from the Fairbanks North Star Borough, the Department of Transportation, and others gathered at the Tanana Lakes Recreation Area boat launch to commemorate the start of a new project for the area.
Despite the rain, moods were jubilant. Speaking at the event, Judith Shiffler with the Parks and Recreation Commission, looked back at the history of the area, saying, “The change in this location from what its use was earlier and what its use is now is that good old Alaska word, mammoth.”
The effort now being undertaken is a massive one. According to John Haas, Park Superintendent with the Fairbanks North Star Borough, “It is the largest component of the development of the park that we’ve ever done.”
From summer 2023 through the beginning of summer 2024, crews will work to pave roads between the boat launch and the swimming beach. They’ll also add a new access point for the park. “We’re going to extend Lathrop Street into the park, across the railroad tracks, over the levee, down here to what is the motorized boat launch for the Tanana River, and then there’ll be a segment of the road that goes over to the non-motorized boat launch, which will also be paved,” Haas said.
When the work is finished, Tanana Lakes will be better able to handle the demand seen at the park throughout the year.
Parking lots will be expanded, two concrete vault restrooms will be added to the area, and the lake’s beach will see increased accessibility. “It’s a mat system that gets rolled out under the sand, so you can roll a wheelchair, or somebody who has mobility issues has a firm footing,” Haas explained.
While work in the area began weeks ago, the ceremony was a chance to see how far the project has come since its development decades ago.
Fundraising for the $13 million endeavor lasted years, with help coming from a variety of sources. According to Haas, “There’s so many people who have given to this project over the years. It’s endless.”
Once this leg of the project is done, even more improvements are expected going forward. “We’re probably 70 percent of the way when this is done,” Haas estimated.
Ideas for future developments include a campground, an archery range, and even something for equestrians.
The recreation area will remain open to the public during construction.
More information on the project can be found here.
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