People in Anchorage disagree about what to do for our homeless people. But most agree that we should not concede our parks and playgrounds to drugs, alcohol, prostitution and all the attendant miseries that go with life on the street.
That's why a fenced dog park at Arctic Benson Park is a good idea.
The dog park would take up a little less than half of the 2-acre park. Families and their individuals with their pets would be a strong counter to drug deals and drinking. The Anchorage Park Foundation has $83,000 for a 5-foot fence to provide a playground for the dogs. Community members like the idea, in part because they hope to raise more money to rehab the playground section of the park, so families and kids would feel welcome there again.
There's something wrong when the park foundation's report card on Arctic Benson includes this sentence:
"The playground is old and abandoned due to intimidating adult activity in the area."
One of the most successful ways to reclaim a blighted park is to replace bad presence with good presence. Let dog owners and families with kids, armed with cellphones, make Arctic Benson unwelcome to those who would make it mess -- and those who prey on lost souls beset by mental illness and addictions.
It wouldn't hurt to have an occasional visit by an Anchorage police K-9 unit, either.
Criticism of the proposed park -- not enough parking, the need to clean up after dogs etc. -- pales compared to what's goes on there now when winter is over. Bring in the dogs, with responsible owners. Kids and families at play will follow.
BOTTOM LINE: Dog park can reclaim Arctic Benson for kids and families too.