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Downtown businesses raise concerns over public drinking, drug use in Peratrovich Park

Community members are meeting to discuss solutions
A group of people gather in Peratrovich Park around a box of wine Friday afternoon.
A group of people gather in Peratrovich Park around a box of wine Friday afternoon.(Matt Leseman)
Published: Aug. 14, 2020 at 9:31 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The streets of Downtown Anchorage look vastly different this summer. The streets are less crowded with tourists, many businesses have moved outside to accommodate emergency orders and distancing requirements, but one big change at Peratrovich Park is drawing concern from local businesses.

Downtown business owners are worried the park is becoming a hotspot for drug and alcohol use. On Friday, many of those owners met at the park to discuss those concerns.

Among them was Bob Neumann, a longtime Alaskan who’s worked across the street from the park for 14 years. Neumann owns Grizzly’s Incorporated, which operates Grizzly’s Gifts and the Historic Anchorage Hotel, as well as Phillip’s Cruises and Tours.

“Use of the park has changed over the years, but especially this year,” he said. “We’re seeing that it’s become a homeless gathering area, a place where we have an inebriate problem.”

Neumann says he's seen people drinking, doing drugs, and camping in the park, which could be turning away some of the few remaining customers during a slow summer.

“We’re all scrambling to get every little bit of business we can to survive what’s going on, and it’s just really tough to see the park degrade down to what it is now,” he said.

Neumann isn’t the only one with those concerns. On Friday the Anchorage Downtown Partnership hosted a discussion at the park to hear from businesses and community members.

“As we heard from surrounding businesses and their concerns about the increase in nefarious activity in this, we wanted to bring our board of directors down here into this space and have the opportunity for businesses to directly communicate what they’re seeing and what they’re feeling,” Amanda Moser, executive director of the ADP, said.

As for what’s next for the park, that’s likely to be addressed in the coming weeks. Moser said Friday’s meeting was to gather information, and a follow-up is scheduled for Wednesday.

“We’re going to reconvene as a community next week and have a meeting to sort of talk about what are our next steps and what are our potential solutions and ways to address what’s happening in this space,” she said.

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