Eye Editorial: Reclaim Redwood Park – February 10, 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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  1. ChongII said:

    I like your ideas local girl!! I remember those days also

  2. local girl said:

    why not have a organized hempfest on that day.. there used to be one (only for a few years) educate people, get the local food and business vendors in there and bring some of the money that people bring to support local business. they will come anyway,make some use of it!

  3. ChongII said:

    Rain or Shine, the Stoners will show up in the masses!!!

  4. Robert Vaughn said:

    Being a weekday this April 20th will be interesting !
    Whatever does actually happen in Redwood park that day ?

    Robert Vaughn

  5. marcy said:

    years ago (mid 90’s) i was living in nyc, where they held the annual “pot parade” (norml’s marijuana march) every year in early may. it ended in washington square park, where everyone would meet up, smoke and listen to music and speakers against prohibition all afternoon. one year, after being fed up with the blatant smoke-fest, the city decided to try to end it by scheduling a “family day in the park” on the same date . . . which was a nice concept, except that most of the folks showing up at the park for the rally had no clue that there was a family day going on. it ended up with a large amount of people wandering around the park smoking joints, wondering why there were face-painting booths and puppet shows everywhere, while parents pushed their children around in strollers bemoaning the presence of huge clouds of pot smoke floating past their heads.
    trying to hold ANYTHING else in the redwood park on 4/20 other than a smoke-out is a waste of time. the same thing i saw happen in nyc will happen; families will have to deal with their kids being exposed to pot, and potheads will have to deal with angry families trying to shut them down. it’s ONE DAY of the year. crack down the rest of the year on smoking and camping and loitering in the park, but let the stoners have their day on 4/20.

  6. ChongII said:

    Just let the stoners smoke their weed, and be happy, gotta think of how it’s going to be with 20,000 pist off stoners being told they can’t smoke, and partake in an Annual event that’s been around for a long time in these woods, I know I wouldn’t like to see that, cuz then it’ll be like the Eureka riots back in the day, and we definitely don’t want that happening in Arcata, or our parks. Yes, they’ve got to think about smoking close, and around peoples children,which is wrong and selfish on their part, but also knowing a park is going to be full of marijuana smoke, it’s pretty self evident to leave your wee ones at home take the community fair down to the plaza, and have it like Farmers market for the day. There’s always a compromise, so that EVERYONE can have a good day instead of making 420 a big fight.

  7. Sarah said:

    Or, let the stoners have their day.

    I think it is the daily management of the problem is what needs to be stepped up. If this one day were a free for all, we could look the other way, and they could know that this was special and different than every other day. Instead what we have are people who think this county is one big festival all year.

    I don’t mind not taking my kids to the playground on one specific day. It sure does bother me though when I do take them there and drug users have taken over the play equipment.