On Monday morning, in downtown Anchorage, the sounds of a summer storm were muffled by thundering construction. This week, crews are demolishing the landmark fountain in the center of Town Square Park.

Tristan McGee watched as heavy machinery tore through the concrete.

“To see all the memories, they’re just washing them away,” McGee said, snapping a few pictures to remember the place he’s been coming to for the last decade. “My kids used to play on that fountain.”

The fountain had stood in the center of town since the late 1980s, though it had not actually worked in years, according to Anchorage Park Superintendent Josh Durand. But lately the park has earned a bad reputation for camouflaging criminal activity and harboring the homeless.

Durand said giving the park a new look is a matter of public safety.

“It needs to have a more tangible and logical connection to some of the surrounding assets — such as the Performing Art Center here, the Kobuck — and just kind of bringing the positive activity into the space, not let it be passive and open to whatever can happen there,” Durand explained.

The Anchorage Downtown Partnership wants Town Square Park to be a place for all sorts of public events that celebrate community. McGee said he is skeptical this plan will work.

“Just because you’re taking down the fountain, that’s not going to stop anything,” he said. “It’s like throwing a pebble in the pond. Is it going to stop the pond?”

Park officials hope to have all the demolition work done and cleaned up before the Live After Five concert scheduled for Thursday night at the park.

Later this summer, crews will put in a concrete plaza where the fountain once stood, as well as an irrigation system and LED lights. Combined, the first round of Town Square Park upgrades will cost more than $100,000, according to Durand.

KTVA 11’s Shannon Ballard can be reached via email or on Facebook and Twitter.

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