Mental Health Land Office harms beneficiaries by blinding neighborhoods with development plans | Columnists

Its only legal obligation, they said, is to generate the maximum income for the trust, which exists to help tens of thousands of Alaskans suffering from mental illness, addiction, dementia, brain injuries and developmental disabilities. .

In order to best meet the needs of trust beneficiaries, land managers should stop trying to silence development projects for as long as possible.

The silence approach generates political opposition, which is detrimental to beneficiaries. Legislators, governors, and trust board members, past and present, bear the responsibility for defining too narrowly the legal obligations of the trust land office.

The blind neighborhoods give the impression that the trust would prefer no one to know what it intends to do, except for the dwindling number of people who read the legal classifieds in the newspapers.

Keeping neighborhoods dark is no way to build trust for trust’s sake.

Exploitation practices are not questionable and must be questioned.

“Gravel extraction on Sylvan Road over 20 years could generate nearly $1.6 million for the trust, according to Wyn Menefee, director of the trust’s land office,” the Anchorage Daily News reported.

“The board has a ‘fiduciary duty’ to make decisions in the best interest of the trust and its beneficiaries, not in the best interest of the public,” Menefee said. It is the Borough of Matanuska-Susitna’s job to address community concerns through its permitting process,” the Daily News reported.

Menefee said the Sylvan Road location “sat there making no money for the trust” and is the right location for a gravel pit. It was he who came up with the idea, according to the newspaper.

Alaskan news agencies do not cover the trust or its land use plans, encouraging a lack of transparency.

The trust’s board approved Wasilla’s lease last August, after Hollie Chalup, the trust’s resource manager, said it was “another exciting opportunity for the land trust to really leverage its material resources in its resource portfolio,” according to the minutes of the meeting.

Council members asked no questions and unanimously approved it, ignoring the obvious potential for neighborhood opposition.

Certainly, the senseless opposition to zoning and land use planning in Wasilla, Fairbanks and elsewhere creates ideal conditions for such land use conflicts. Sensible planning would reduce the potential for conflict, but the loudest voices claim otherwise and elected officials cower.

Yet it is not in the interest of mental health trust beneficiaries to weaken political support for the trust that helps Alaskans in need by claiming there are no political consequences and financial to blow public opinion.

Gregory M. Roy