Less concrete, lower hills, no more stairs and wooden benches--Town Square Park gets a new design

ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - A possible new design for Town Square Park has been updated and released to the public after hundreds of suggestions from the public.

It would get rid of the concrete stairs, push the stage back, lower the hills, and add more green space. It would also incorporate other materials like wooden benches and lights inside the park.

"More or less the configuration would stay the same. The heights would lower a little bit on the mounds to allow better visibility. Then you'd have more of sort of random mounds where you'd have more of like a sloping lawn centered into the middle," Steve Rafuse, a Park Planner with the city for Parks and Recreation said.

Rafuse says there's a desire from the public for more events and concerts in the park as well as for more green space. He also says the lowered hills would increase visibility and non-native trees would be taken out and replaced with local trees.

"This is the first step in trying to make that positive change," Rafuse said.

He says the cost stands at about $5 million, which would be paid for with donations and grants as well as money from the city and state. There's already a $600,000 bond waiting to be used for Town Square.

Over the years several well-documented events at the park, including a sexual assault and drug deals, have gained a lot of negative attention here. Town Square was originally designed in the 1980s and hasn't had a comprehensive update since.

Rafuse says he's heard from park users that Town Square appears cold and uninviting when the food vendors and flowers aren't around. He says the concrete stairs create barriers for people, especially people with mobility issues.

"(We'd be) taking these steps down, kind of making a clear path for folks to come across and move through the park," Rafuse said. "Adding a small play area beside the Kobuk over there to bring some positive activity, something for families," he continued.

Parks and Rec is still asking for input about the plan and what people want from the park. There's a public hearing on June 13.

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