ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - The Williwaw neighborhood has carried a reputation as a rough place to live for decades. Sitting just outside of the jurisdiction of Wasilla Police Department, residents say that crime and drug-related activity have plagued the area for years. In an effort to change things in Williwaw, a group of citizens have taken it upon themselves to make a difference - starting with the lot at the corner of Chickaloon and North Copper Road.
In February, the Mat-Su Borough sold the lot for just $10 back in February. Since then, the heavily-wooded corner has been completely transformed. A nearly-completed play ground is expected to open officially before the month ends.
Groups like F.I.S.H. (Families for the Improvement of Health and Safety) and the Wasilla Sunrise Rotary have worked together to make progress on the property.
F.I.S.H. founder Rachel Sayen Lambert lives in Williwaw. She tells KTUU that these actions have been needed for years.
"It the past, the thought was that there was no recourse," she said. "Just because you lived in Williwaw, you had to deal with the fact that the person next to you was trafficking drugs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, or that homeless people were coming over building flop houses in old trailers ... building temporary shelters out of trash to live in."
Now that's slowly changing. One resident has even gone so far as to purchase property that community members refer to as a known drug house, just to clean it up and end the unwanted activity.
The Mat-Su Trails and Parks Foundation also came forward to award the community with a $40,000 grant to build a playground. One of the conditions of the grant was that the group must provide a $20,000 match. They say they are only a few thousand dollars short at this time.
Next summer, F.I.S.H. and the Wasilla Sunshine Rotary Club plan on completing the entire park, which includes space for a pavilion and a community greenhouse.
According to rotary member Dan Kennedy this is just the start of the process of making Williwaw into a family-friendly community.
"Once we have community assets available in a neighborhood, it just revitalizes everything," he said.
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