There are two ways people may look at Town Square Park: for its potential and for its problems.

Public safety concerns plague the community focal point, and the Anchorage Downtown Partnership is working to make the park more family-friendly.

In recent years, ADP has tried to encourage people to visit the park with activities like free zumba and hip-hop classes, library books for everyone and a community piano during the summer.

“We recognize that when we bring events into Town Square Park that it brings active users, folks that are utilizing the space in a different way and it shifts the dynamics around the park,” ADP executive director Amanda Moser said.

Anchorage Parks and Recreation says the park's history and association with crime prompted the municipality to make a change.

“It got to a point around 2014 where folks they just, they wanted to take back their park,” senior planner Steve Rafuse said.

Rafuse is the project manager behind a proposed Town Square Park master plan.

“We had four workshops, worked with a couple advisory groups, and talked to local businesses,” he said.

The 104-page draft outlines a community vision, including design, safety and maintenance recommendations.

Rafuse hopes if changes are approved, people who once avoided Town Square Park will sing a different tune.

“It used to be kind of this really dark, kind of seedy area. Nobody wanted to go through it, it wasn't very safe, but I feel like the more bodies you can get traversing through it, it doesn't seem as scary,” said Underground Dance Company Instructor Kasha Smith-Poynter before leading a free community class on Friday afternoon.

The master plan is estimated to cost $5.4 million. The municipality says it already has $600,000 of approved bond money set aside for the park.   

The Parks and Recreation Commission will hold a public hearing on the master plan Thursday, June 13 at 6 p.m. at the Spenard Recreational Center.

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