Park would help revitalize downtown
In Tom Morphet’s editorial panning the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee suggestion of a permanent green space or commons on Main Street, he describes the “large downtown puzzle we have just started putting together.” Tom’s advice to Haines is to hold off on actually fitting the pieces together. I disagree with Tom’s wait-and-see approach. For years we’ve been taxing ourselves and investing in a seasonal visitor economy while wringing our hands over the “puzzle” of downtown revitalization. Intentional public space planning is a proven method used to revitalize commercial districts (aka Main Street). To that end, I support borough action to retain in perpetuity at least a portion of Lot 8A – the grassy green-space at the southwest corner of Main Street and Third Avenue – rather than selling it all for corner-to-corner, brick and mortar commercial development.
Our Main Street commercial hub is stronger today because of new, attractive private enterprise and artistic creativity. That park-like grassy patch at Main and Third offers an opportunity to further enhance commercial district appeal. Retaining some public property on Main Street allows for a future, intentional, park-like green-space or town square that will beautify and revitalize, and addresses a valuable goal of the Haines Borough Comprehensive Plan. The publisher’s notion that our downtown options “will become more apparent once other pieces fall in place” is a non-starter. Identifying areas of interest and working to find common ground is the first step, Tom, not the last.