Story last updated at 2:38 p.m. Thursday, May 30, 2002

Town Square concept needs all our support
Having visited Kenai, Soldotna and then Homer, a visitor once asked how to find the center of town. In response, we all shrugged our shoulders and walked away in different directions. Is it important that a town have an identity or at least an attitude that is reflected somehow in the community? We think so.

Homer is growing. Just look around and you can see the activity. Several of the projects are skirting around what could potentially become the heart of our town. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Refuge Visitors Center along the Sterling Highway can become a part of our attitude and statement to our visitors. This attitude doesnpit have to be portrayed only by large expensive public projects. Just head up and down Main Street and take a look at the new construction and private face lifts that are under way. The new Main Street Mercantile is at another corner of what can become a centerpiece for Homer.

In the geographic center of our little town is a beautiful piece of undeveloped land. It was originally reserved and used by the Federal Aviation Administration for their nondirectional beacon tower site. It has been transformed from an FAA site to KBBI studios to the place for "Concert on the Lawn." Over the years the parcel has been split up, and today individual parts of it are owned by Cook Inlet Region Inc., the University of Alaska, and the city of Homer.

The Town Square Working Group has worked hard to explore the possibilities for the parcel. Suggestions have included a community library, a city hall complex, economic development, university facilities, parks, pathways, and a pedestrian friendly core to our town. It has the potential to mix multiple uses in a friendly way that can become a statement of what Homer is about.

The Kachemak Heritage Land Trust has taken a bold move to bring this central Town Square notion closer to reality. The trust is purchasing the Clarence "Poopdeck" Platt property, which is adjacent to the central Town Square area. This 3.47 acre parcel is located just east of the University of Alaska portion of the central core. It faces south and is a gently sloping parcel that has a mix of open grassy areas, alder thickets and young spruce. The land also has a cabin built in 1943, which has a colorful history.

The trust has taken this move to help support the Town Square possibilities. They are currently in the fund-raising mode to help raise the $300,000 purchase price. They have already raised over half of the funds and are well on their way to raising the balance, but are looking for community help to achieve the goal. If you think having a pedestrian friendly town center that supports environmental, economic and educational components is a good idea, give them a hand. The easiest way may be to show up for one of their upcoming fund-raising activities. First on the calendar is a concert with fiddling poet Ken Waldman at Alicepis this Sunday.

Who knows, maybe someday when a visitor asks where the center of town is, we can smile and answer them with pride and a twinkle in our eye.

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