Will removal of concrete wall in Spenard cut down on crime?
A retaining wall that served as a bench for up to a dozen people in front of the Holiday gas station at Minnesota Drive and Spenard Road was removed Tuesday, and Anchorage police are hoping the crime that came with the crowds will go away as well.
According to Anchorage Police Department records, officers have responded to the property more than 500 times since the beginning of the year. Many of the calls are for disturbances, drunken behavior, assaults and trespassing.
APD Spokesman MJ Thim said police worked with business owners to try and find a solution. Removing the place where people sit was decided as the way to go after, Thim said, a similar seating area removed from the corner of the New Seward Highway and Northern Lights Boulevard greatly reduced calls for service to the area.
Thim called the work “a great example of proactive community policing,” and said business owners with similar issues should contact police.
But some have raised concerns the problem will only be pushed to a different corner. Dan Parsons, who used to manage the Holiday gas station and now works at the Pizza Hut said he didn’t think removing the wall would solve the problem.
“I think they’re just going to move down the street,” Parsons said.
Michael Cooper, one of the regulars on the corner said he had no intention of moving anywhere. Cooper said he’d been coming to the corner for the past five years where his panhandling skills had always paid off.
“Because Spenard people are so generous, they are,” Cooper said. “They hand out money, they hand out food, they hand out cigarettes, weed — now that it’s legal.”
Cooper said he may not have a place to sit, but he planned to keep standing as long as he could stay at the corner.
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