It’s Not the Mayor’s to Destroy

It’s Not the Mayor’s to Destroy

Tear down the fountain? Is this a joke?

He says the aging structure gives bad people a place to hide and contributes to crime in the park.

That may be, but note to mayor: The fountain belongs to the citizens of Anchorage; it is not yours, and we do not think surrendering to drug dealers, drunks and bums is the way to go. On top of that, a guy who says he has years in the water industry said on the Mike Porcaro Radio Show he would fix the broken fountain – it has not operated for years – for only $10,000.

You would think the mayor would at least talk to the Anchorage Assembly, or the city planning and zoning officials about his plan rather than unilaterally deciding to demolish a fountain that was a gift to the city in 1998. It was a memorial to Dick Silberer, a car dealer and banker who died of cancer, the Anchorage Dispatch News reports. His family donated $150,000 for the fountain.

The fight was long and hard to establish the park as a tiny oasis near the middle of the city’s bustling downtown area. The effort was spearheaded by urban activist Ruth Moulton in the 1980s. She fought to prevent the tract from being developed.

Over the years, as conditions in the park have gotten worse, the hand-wringing worsens, too. There have been workshops and reports and studies and various ideas to fix it, but it only continues to decline. Officials anxious to do something, but afraid to do what is necessary to clean up the mess, come up with ideas – cutting trees, leveling the hills that make the park unique, removing the fountain, privatizing the park – but nothing gets done.

About the best Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz has come up with so far is spending more taxpayer dollars on housing and social services for the park’s denizens.

The park nowadays is a dangerous place where most rational people would not bring their children or leave them unattended. That needs to change, and ripping out the park’s fountain will not do the trick.

There are two answers. First, put cops in the park to enforce the law and park rules. Berkowitz says he will do just that, but the question is: Why has it not been done already? All those millions the city continues finding in its coffers can pick up the tab.

Second, make the park a venue for anything and everything to keep it busy and packed with ordinary people. Drug dealers et al., get very skittish around crowds and cops and attention.

Working to make life easier for the park’s habitués, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to build places for them to live, coddling them at the expense of taxpayers will not work.

But cops and crowds will do the trick.

And fix the fountain, Mr. Mayor, it is not yours to destroy.

See Original Editorial at   image copyright 2016