Thursday, June 13, 2013

Alaska Park

Alaska Park is 1 of 108 St. Louis parks making up 4.71 acres of the total 2,956 acres of parkland in the city.  Alaska Park came into existence in 1995 and can be found in the Carondelet Neighborhood near the corner of Koeln and Alaska Avenue. 
As can be seen in the map, this park is near the southern city limits, bordering the suburban city of Bella Villa, MO.

The park is basically a field of mowed grass/weeds and maybe 40 trees placed haphazardly and not well maintained.  This park has nothing, literally nothing else.  There are no trash cans, no water fountain, no benches, no picnic tables...nothing.

No where to dispose of your tasty cold beverage.


The only thing that will make you aware that it is a park is the familiar wooden park sign:

There is a sidewalk connecting Koeln to Schirmer that runs along railroad tracks.



This "park" is really nothing more than a field.  A good place for a kid to climb a tree, I suppose.

 ...or a space for the dog to retrieve the Frisbee....


Other than that, not much to see here folks, move right along now.

"Park's closed moose out front should've told you."


This may be one of the more boring spaces of all the 111 parks, but only time will tell.

This part of Carondelet mainly has modest mid century frame houses lining the park.





Alaska Park is in the shadow of A.E. Schmidt billiards and other light manufacturing.  It is also just north of the massive Israel Chemical Limited plant, where ~250 million pounds of phosphate and phosphoric acid products are produced (source). 


Near Shirmer Avenue, there is a weird either homeless encampment or temporary furniture fort near the dumpsters.  There was a grown shirtless man rooting around in the cushions upon my visit.  I couldn't tell if he was living there or looking for something in the cushions after an eviction or something...very strange.

I'm not sure what used to be on this property before this became park land in 1995. 

There was no one using the park on my visit.

What do you do with a space like this?  Clearly the neighborhood has to embrace it and make it a place.  If the community doesn't embrace it and demand something of the space, it will continue in its current state and the park's dept will be happy to do the bare minimum to maintain the space.

It would be nice to see the city sell this parkland for light industrial development; or more homes.  I don't think anyone would mind.

4 comments:

Chris said...

I was told that there used to be homes there, decades ago, but that it is a flood plain, and after repeated flooding, they moved the homes out and turned it into a "park". I drive past it every day on my way to my office which is about 3 blocks away. I'm a Presbyterian pastor who's young congregation meets in a Lutheran church on Vermont Ave. Our church's garden, which has been around for 3.5 yrs is one of Gateway Greening's South City hub gardens.

Ironically, the night that you're posting about Alaska Park, there is a Lutheran non-profit ministry called Extreme Faith that also meets in our building and is organizing games & activities tonight in...Alaska Park.

You're right, though, Mark, the park is in bad shape.

Monica said...

Before it was a park there were houses on the lot. The flood of 1993 apparently caused major damage to the homes there(unsure why that small area suffered that fate while other homes closer to River Des Peres didn't). I live a block away and use it often to let my dog run around. It is definitely the unofficial "dog park" of the neighborhood. I think it should be renamed Alaska Field, calling it a park so close to the magnificent Carondelet Park is unjust!

Mark Groth said...

^Thanks for the history lesson! Chris, great to see folks using the park. It would be nice to see a pavilion, trash cans and a few benches. That would make it more of a park and less of a field as Monica said.

Jeff S said...

Finally, some attention to St. Louis' rich history of furniture forts.