Friends of Benka Lake File Official Complaint

By Jenny Willoughby

October 13, 2023

The Friends of Benka Lake officially filed a complaint against Mr. and Mrs. Brunz to restore public access to the lake.

The Brunzes erected a fence in August 2022 following the purchase of the land on both sides of Lakeview Street, the only public access to Benka Lake. The boat ramp appears to belong to the new landowners. However, the deed to the eastern parcel, also called Tract A, shows that landowners were responsible for providing public access to the lake and documenting it in a plat. 

No previous landowners of Tract A had fulfilled that requirement, though it also was in their deeds. The State began the error by transferring the property to the University of Alaska without capturing the road and ramp as public access in a plat. Lakeview Street and the boat ramp have been in place since the 1960s. The State transferred Tract A to the University of Alaska in 1983. The road and ramp were continually used as a public boat launch and fish stocking access until 2022.

Just before the complaint was filed, the Brunzes attorney, Phil Weidner, drafted a 100-page letter directed to many State and Borough officials.

Weidner notes in his letter that there are other public access easements around the lake. Several of those easements are only specified for pedestrian access, not vehicle traffic. The DNR Section Line easements mentioned by Weidner will be difficult and expensive to establish because one is over wetlands and the other is a steep drop to the lake. 

Weidner claims in the letter that the current access point is dangerous due to its lack of turn-around space, parking, and toilets. The Brunzes also own Tract E, a property that abuts one of the DNR Section Line easements south of Winterset Drive. They offered a small portion in the northeast corner of this land as a swap. But they would only offer it if the State agrees to give them Lakeview Street from Winterset Drive to the lake. Tract E does not abut the lake and its northeast corner is located nearly 700 feet away from the water. 

The official complaint says that Brunzes plan to subdivide Tract E and provide private boat launch access to the new landowners through Lakeview Street. If accepted, the State would likely take years to develop the Section Line easement from Tract E as a public boat launch.

In addition, Weidner also indicates that the Brunzes would not assume responsibility for any costs associated with developing the new public boat access. 

Kramer filed the official complaint on behalf of the Friends of Benka Lake on October 6th. The Brunzes have 20 days to respond.

Friends of Benka Lake File Official Complaint
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