Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

Park at Third Avenue rejected

 


A request by the Haines Borough’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee to designate a lot at Third Avenue and Main Street as a park or future park gained little traction at a planning commission meeting last month.

Commissioners Brenda Josephson, Larry Geise, Donnie Turner and Rob Miller voiced resistance to the idea and other members expressed support for maintaining its current status as a park-like spot without making a permanent designation.

The Haines Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Revitalization Committee both have endorsed to the borough the idea of a “town square,” although the chamber did not identify a space for that use.

Josephson, a past member of the revitalization group, said previous statements – including ones in the borough’s comprehensive plan – weren’t aimed at creating a park on the site.

“I like green spaces, but it was not to set it aside for recreation. It was to help commerce and the community of the downtown area. I think we have to be real careful before we start eating away at our limited commercial area,” Josephson said.

Said Geise: “I don’t want to limit the assembly’s potential to do something they might consider more useful than a park.”

Speaking for the parks and recreation committee, resident Burl Sheldon called the area an “awfully nice space” the group would like to see retained and enhanced. He noted that a former ballpark outside the library became a parking space without much community notice.

“There’s still a need for a central, core attraction and enhancement that deals with recreation. Parks and rec is asking that something be done to solidify that concept. This goes right to the core of downtown revitalization,” Sheldon said.

Commissioner Heather Lende said outdoor, public spaces were important for building community. “It’s nice to have a corner park and it might add to some of the appeal of Main Street and it might help make some of our vacant buildings become full,” she said.

The commission agreed to pursue language defining and establishing parks, as that is lacking in borough code, they said.

In an interview after the meeting, parks and recreation committee chair Rich Chapell said his group’s goal was to “preserve one spot” that wouldn’t be sold for commercial use. “It’s a beautiful piece of land with a great view that will keep downtown attractive for everyone.”

 
 

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