Sunday, December 13, 2015

Sometimes You Can't Fight City Hall and Win

Larry Moore Park Workshop, 12-12-2015, © B. Radisavljevic
Larry Moore Park Workshop, 12-12-2015, © B. Radisavljevic

The Larry Moore Park Workshop

I went to a meeting Saturday morning  December 12 at the Emergency Services Building in downtown Paso Robles. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the future of what has up until now been a neighborhood park for the residents of the Riverbank tract behind the Walmart shopping center. The residents were notified that Larry Moore Park is now a part of the city park system and will undergo many changes that park users in other parts of the city, unlike Riverbank residents, would like to see. You can read the details of these changes in this article in the Paso Robles Daily News.

When my neighbors and I got to the meeting we found hot beverages and donut pieces available, since many of us had not had much breakfast yet. The first thing we saw besides the goodies was the welcome screen posting the agenda I have shown you in the first photo above. On the wall was the following set of architectural drawings.

Proposed Plan for Larry Moore Park ,  © B. Radisavljevic
Proposed Plan for Larry Moore Park ,  © B. Radisavljevic

Proposed Changes to Larry Moore Park

Refer to photo  above. On the right side you see the park as it is now. On the left is the drawing showing how it may look after the city develops it. You can click to enlarge this photo. Residents heard the city's presentation and then were allowed to ask  questions and try to get answers. After the meeting broke up officially, many people stayed to make suggestions to city staff,  and they wrote the suggestions on copies of the drawings.

Very few of the neighborhood residents want the changes. Development will bring added traffic, noise, and lights into our peaceful neighborhood. There is also no parking except for limited street parking, much of which is used by the residents.

I would rather that this park would not be more developed at all. So  far it's about the only park in Paso Robles that maintains a wilderness area.The Salinas River Trail runs through the edge of the park closest to the river. It is a quiet place to take a walk and be close to nature, even though  there are houses across the street and a shopping center on the other side of the wall and above it as the trail runs just north of the park. The wall and hill keep the view of the shopping center at a distance. That wouldn't work inside the middle of the park where the ball field and parking lots would be.

No one minds keeping the benches for eating a lunch or just resting along the trail or in the park. But building a couple of standard baseball diamonds for scheduled games and putting parking lots right beside the trails where native plants now live does bother me. Some trees will be removed.

 There are other parks in the city with baseball diamonds. There is no other park in the city with a wilderness area and a place to enjoy a quiet walk, where children can explore nature and learn about our native plants. With a baseball diamond and a parking lot right beside the trail, I think the bunnies that often play hide-and-seek with walkers will probably stay out of sight when they hear added the noise.

The city representatives, including staff, at least three city council members, and the mayor, don't appear to share my concern. The backstory seems to be that the city lost a ballpark and needs to put one in some other park and we've been chosen. The input they have asked for is to rank the elements from their list of possible improvements in order of our preference as to what we would like added first, leaving blank any that don't interest us. There is some blank space for added comments. Our choices are these:

  • Fitness Stations along the River Trail
  • Picnic Tables
  • BBQ Pavillions
  • Benches along the River Trail
  • Second Baseball Field
  • Parking Lot
  • Other

No United Neighborhood Opposition

We have no choice or voice about the first baseball field and the upgraded "safer" playground. I suspect the neighbors will not agree on what they want to see happen, depending upon how close they live to the proposed parking lot. Those who live right across from the park want to see the first  baseball diamond in the corner of the park closest to the river trail where it will disturb wildlife the most and them the least. They would also like the parking lot near that corner or next to the trail from the northeast entrance.

I can understand why since they don't want them as the view from their front windows. Hardly anyone really wants the parking lot inside the current park boundaries, but most recognize the alternative is street parking and we all know that is not sufficient. 

I won't fight for my preferences, since I know I'm on the losing side and may die before they ever finish the construction anyway. What disturbs most residents is what this will do to our  property values, since none of these  changes had been foreseen when we bought our homes.We know this development will forever change the character and peace of the neighborhood. We aren't happy about that. Many  residents also  want to see a financial plan for the maintenance of any improvements. The city is great at getting grants to build things they have no money  to maintain.

Park Photos

Dying Cottonwood Tree at Larry Moore Park,  © B. Radisavljevic
Dying Cottonwood Tree at Larry Moore Park,  © B. Radisavljevic
If some of the changes to the park that were discussed are implemented, it's possible that one or both of these two trees which may be in the way will be replaced. This cottonwood tree is almost dead. Most of the green on it is mistletoe. Vandals have destroyed the picnic table next to it. 

Large Willow Tree at Larry Moore Park,  © B. Radisavljevic
Large Willow Tree at Larry Moore Park,  © B. Radisavljevic
This large willow tree is in the center of the park. It is surrounded by poison oak. I would hate to lose either tree just because they are like park landmarks to me. The willow still seems healthy to me, but the cottonwood loses more branches each year, and it struggles to stay alive. You can click any photo to enlarge it.

I will show you more of the park itself in future posts. I have been taking photos of it since I moved here about twenty years ago. Here is a photo album I started about the park on Flickr. The second to last picture titled 365 Jan 7 Beginning of Trail to Bridge, is near one entrance to the park - the one closest to me. Some would like to see a parking lot to the left of the trail there. To see how colorful this portion of the park is in October, see "What's Blooming in Larry Moore Park In October?"

Those who want to stay informed of new decisions and meetings about the park, can visit the City Website for Park Maintenance.   I have given you more current information here than is appearing as I post this. Perhaps they will update it Monday. 

Here is one of my favorite river scenes taken from Larry Moore Parkin jigsaw puzzle form. The same photo is available on many other products from postcards and magnets to mugs and electronic cases. I just like puzzles. 

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