GET OUTSIDE: The future of Town Square Park

Published: Aug. 1, 2017 at 5:23 PM AKDT
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For a long time Town Square Park in Downtown Anchorage has been known for drug dealing, street drunks and a gathering place for the homeless, but Mayor Ethan Berkowitz is determined to change its image.

“It’s why I had my inauguration here,” Berkowitz said. “I wanted to make a statement to say we’re taking Town Square back.”

Since taking office, the fountain- a hiding place for illegal activity- has been torn down, trees have been cleared and APD has increased its foot and bike patrols.

According to APD, once foot patrols were fully implemented calls for service in Town Square Park were cut almost in half.

Today, more people can be spotted in the place some say is the heart of Downtown. Every day you can see kids play on the sidewalks, people eat lunch there and it’s a regular spot for entertainment.

And how can you not mention the flowers? They. Are. Beautiful. It’s one of the reasons why Executive Producer Ashleigh Ebert and I wanted to spend day two of our “Get Outside” series high lighting the park and its future.

Jamie Boring, executive director of the Downtown Partnership, says this summer alone nearly 19,000 people have visited the park and improvements aren’t done yet.

“Lots of conversation have been around what do we envision the park to be 20 years from now, 50 years from now,” said Boring.

The city is now looking for public input on what they’d like to see happen with Town Square Park.

With new changes, Boring says there are new challenges.

“It didn’t take long to correct the challenges with the bad element, what is taking a long time is changing people’s perceptions about the safety,” Boring said.

That perception is getting better.

Boring says a recent survey shows 28 percent of people have changed their view of Town Square. Eventually Boring would like to see that bump to 100 percent.

“If we can bring people in, if we have good activity, it’s just a real productive place for people to be,” said Berkowitz.