When a few community members put heads together to help find a nearby location for a dog park, they didn’t know they were sparking a community healing moment. Amanda wanted an off-leash area for Todd, and Susan just wanted a separate small dog area so Theo could relax. A big mostly unused field seemed like a great way to positively activate a nearby park with reports of parking lot drug deals. As a parent and caregiver, Faith thought that old playground could really use a swing.
Then these neighbors organized! They canvassed to help pass the 2017 municipal bond to fund the park improvements. They applied for and secured an Anchorage Park Foundation community challenge grant. They workshopped design possibilities with the Parks Department. The group behind the project grew. And grew. They raised thousands of dollars. They volunteered their own labor for park improvements.
This summer, their dreams for a new inclusive playground, safety improvements, and a fenced off-leash small and large dog park came true in Whisper Faith Kovach Park. But something else happened, outside the park.
The neighbors of the Abbott Loop area have been more than a bit divided over the years. This might not be surprising, if you remember the land-use tensions that were regular front-page news.
Despite this, friendships developed across an old divide of neighbors. As Patti tells it, “This park has mended decades-long tensions and negative activities in our neighborhood. All I see is joy and a community of neighbors who never saw or spoke to each other now talking to each other, waving, walking to the park, enjoying the park.”
Overall, Parks and Recreation installed the following improvements in 2018:
- All new playground equipment for 2-5 and 5-12 years olds
- Unitary surfacing in the play area
- New plaza with picnic tables and benches
- New fence along Lore Road to improve safety and visibility
- New off-leash dog park space with separate areas for small dogs and big dogs
- New landscaping and beautification