Eye Editorial: Reclaim Redwood Park – February 10, 2010

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The degradation of Redwood Park and the Arcata Community Forest is being slowed, if not reversed, by the advent of pro-active forces in and out of government.

With two APD park rangers now on duty, word is getting around that the former free-for-all of drug-taking, dog-romping and destructive camping will likely bring big-time buzzkills in the form of citations and arrests.

On the civilian side, Jon O’Connor of North Coast Adventure Centers (NCAC) is bringing a range of wholesome activities to Arcata’s wildlands. Support NCAC and participate in its programs. northcoastadventurecenters.com

NCAC’s endeavors have been hampered by people who drink and smoke their days away.  The same party-zone reputation that attracts nomadic stoners from around the country has driven off  youth groups who refuse to enter the clouds of dope smoke which have literally enveloped some participants.

Along with deterring the open drug-taking and other destructive behavior, the APD and NCAC presence will, if sustained, gradually reverse the perception of Arcata’s premier park as a destination for druggies. That will take time, and the re-branding will occur not by slogans, lectures or misleading portrayals, but by displacing the destroyers with positive activities and allowing word-of-mouth to do the rest.

On that note, we’ve heard a number of preposterous proposals for fending off the annual April 20 takeover of Redwood Park by environment-trashing dopers. These incude closing it, or scheduling some big, noisy and probably unnecessary public works project there on that day. A better solution is to do what works on the Plaza during the Farmers’ Market and the various fairs – constructive counterprogramming.

Make 4-20 Arcata’s annual Community Fair. Fill Redwood Park and environs with Arcata’s best – its civic groups, service clubs, businesses, schools and university. Have a skills fair, a crafts fair, a jobs fair, food vending, school recruitment, outdoor activities demos, theatrical presentations and more, lasting into the evening. Park the antique fire truck and some police cars in the middle of the meadow for kids to climb on. There are many, many more possibilities, and we ought to get started soon putting the day-long event together.

No one’s rights would be violated and the ruinous activity would have to go elsewhere. Advance advertising could reduce the numbers of those arriving to drug out in our open spaces.

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