Map of existing and proposed trails in Petersburg, courtesy of Susan Harai.

Petersburg Indian Association is planning another stretch of trail in town. Tribal Transportation Director Susan Harai held a public meeting Tuesday in the PIA Conference Room to discuss the new trail.

Turnout to the meeting was sparse – only one person came who was neither a reporter nor professionally connected to the planning. In broad terms, this trail was that community member’s idea.

“Actually, this project came about because Katherine Schneider suggested it,” Harai said at the meeting. “One of the feelings was it would be nice for people that live in Mountain View Manor to be able to access the trail system – you know, wheelchair accessible – from Mountain View Manor. And so this actually takes off from Gjoa Street. It connects right into the back of Mountain View Manor and it connects into the Hungry Point gravel trail.”

Schneider joked, “It’s a great idea.”

“We had also talked about maybe building a shelter or something a picnic pull out, maybe down where the two trails join,” Schneider said.

Harai said the trail will connect existing trails in a figure-8 shape, with one or two proposed pull-out stops along the way. PIA’s trail crew will build a six foot wide wooden boardwalk. Building a gravel trail through a wetland area would have required extra permitting, and Harai needed to meet a grant deadline. She said crews will start working on this next spring at the earliest.

“We have 3 thousand feet of maintenance to do on the gravel trail – the Hungry Point gravel trail, and that will probably take the rest of the winter,” Harai said.

Actually, the Mountain View Manor trail is not the next project in line for PIA. A sidewalk around 12th and Howkan Streets takes priority for safety reasons. In the winter, kids walking to Haugen Drive to catch the bus walk in the street between snowbanks piled on either side.

“It’s dark when they go to school; it’s dark when they come home from school,” Harai said. “People are running to Hammer and Wikan to get breakfast or whatever, and it’s just to make them safe.” She added there will eventually be a meeting on that project, which Petersburg Borough is also involved with.

The federal government under the Tribal Transportation Program gives money to Petersburg Indian Association and other tribal governments to complete transportation projects and hire Alaska Native workers. Two four-person crews are working on trails in the area. Harai is thinking ahead to other ideas, including a trail that would link the Severson’s neighborhood to the post office. That vision is complicated somewhat because it would have to circumvent airport land and stay on land owned by the borough.

Harai said she imagines the town’s trail network kind of like a Central Park for Petersburg.

You can still give comments on the Mountain View Manor Trail, and read more about trail and transportation planning here.