Addiction group: Destroy Paradise Inn Palm Tree
There is more controversy over the iconic Paradise Inn palm tree sign in Spenard.
"Spenard is not a horrible place. It's just that palm tree to me is evil. It's a bad example of a good place," said Kim Whitaker, the president of the recovery group Real About Addiction.
Whitaker wants the palm tree to be destroyed because it brings back horrible memories of the Paradise Inn. Whitaker says she pulled some women out of the building who were caught up in drugs and prostitution a few years ago. The United States Marshals say the Paradise Inn was forfeited to the federal government as part of a criminal drug case-- with the tree removed and now being sold at auction.
"If it was up to me, it would be shattered-- like the lives that have been shattered and taken advantage of here. And the families of the loved ones that were here that have been traumatized," said Whitaker.
This week, the president of the Spenard Community Council said he'd like to see the palm stay in Spenard, a neighborhood that he says sometimes gets a bad rap. The group of Spenard supporters has started a GoFundMe page to try and purchase the palm tree. Reacting to Whitaker wanting the palm tree sign destroyed, Jay Strange with the community council said that he understands Whitaker's concerns about addiction. He says he has been personally touched by heroin addiction-- even losing some family and friends to the drug. But, he said he sees the effort to save and display the palm tree in Spenard as a love for the neighborhood and a chance to rebuild it.
U.S. Marshals referred KTVA to the United States Attorney's Office in Anchorage in regards to Whitaker wanting the sign destroyed.
"By order of the court, the palm tree sign has been legally forfeited to the United States and is now up for auction. Federal law requires that the forfeited property be auctioned or sold... Proceeds would be deposited into the United States’ Asset Forfeiture Fund, where a portion of those funds is distributed to victims of crime throughout the country," said Chloe Martin, executive assistant to the U.S. Attorney.
The starting price for the palm tree sign is $4500.00. The auction runs through July 10.
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