New Aniak Airport Beacon Causes Headaches For Residents

Vince Winter's window, where the beacon shines directly into at night.
Credit Krysti Shallenberger / KYUK

There are many things that keep people up at night, but for some Aniak residents, it's a brand new beacon the state installed without warning two months ago.  

Dave Mattson owns an automotive shop, and doesn’t like the new airport beacon. It keeps him up late at night by shining right into his house.

Mattson lives close to Vince Winter, another resident who is upset about the new beacon. Winter showed me where the beacon shines into his house when I visited Aniak two weeks ago. Winter lives on the second floor of his house. That means the beacon shines right into the windows of both his living room and his bedroom.

"You basically need sunscreen in here because that’s how bright it is," Winter said.

The old airport beacon used to be farther down the road and was taller. Two months ago, the new beacon appeared without any notification to residents. It’s part of a big, expensive runway construction project that Aniak must do to meet federal aviation requirements, and the solution to the beacon is complicated.

Mattson says that some people are trying to put together a petition to complain. But, he says, "I don’t know if anybody knows where to submit to."

Meanwhile, Aniak’s city manager Kevin Toothacker has tried to come up with a solution with Knik Construction, which is in charge of the runway construction. Toothacker says that it’s too expensive to move the beacon, and moving it would just mean the beacon would shine into other homes. Other suggestions include some kind of shield to soften the light or change the light’s angle. 

"We’re kind of mellow about it all... my father used to tell me that you can’t eat pizza everyday," Toothacker said. "Sometimes you get brussel sprouts."

He says that the beacon could guide people out on snowmachines back to Aniak. For now, Toothacker says that he will bring up the concerns about the beacon with Knik Construction again next week.