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Why the University Bulldozing in People's Park Matters (News Analysis)

By Terri Compost
Thursday December 29, 2011 - 11:07:00 PM

The University's recent bulldozer "maintenance" in the Park is problematic in several ways. First, it is a violation of trust and respect. The University snuck into the Park in the early hours with no notice to the community and long time Park volunteers. The Pergola, or trellis in the West End, which UC rather mysteriously decapitated, was designed and agreed upon during almost a year of meetings with University architects and the volunteers who built it. And the information that the University is providing for their recent attack is misleading, if not outright falsehood. I'll eat my hat if the Park sports a native grass and poppy prairie. And how does destroying a trellis deal with rats? please!

Secondly, UC has destroyed precious natural resources that were purchased, planted and tended by volunteers. The list of food producing plants destroyed in the bulldoze include: plum trees, native manzanita, olive, grape vines, kiwi plants, maguay, nopales cactus, and a mature rose bush as well as beautiful plants like pink amaryliss bulb flowers, pyrocantha and a palm like plant donated to the Park by Mario and Rosalinda that was growing by the entrance to their property in the back of the Park. It will take years to replace the food and beauty those plants were producing.

Thirdly, UC is trying to erase history. The incursion itself is a test to see if the People will hold this place as the sacred ground it liberated from the folly of UC in 1969 and has held all these years. Bulldozing is not user development. The Pergola trellis, that was cut in half, was made out of the old growth redwood that was recycled from the volleyball court fiasco of 1991. Also the berms that were removed were actually piles of asphalt that were ripped up by people in 1979 when the University lied, then, about a free parking lot. And the Council Grove surrounded by the plum trees has long been the Park's best meeting place. These are literally testaments of our history that were destroyed.

Also the berms created a peaceful place between two busy streets, they were a feature that good landscape designers desire. UC is trying to implement control and "security". It is up to us to decide if we want recreational areas to resemble prison yards or be living, inspiring, beautiful refuges.

Well now there is a void. I hope people will rise to the challenge and recreate with their friends and their own dreams. Viva People's Park.

Here are some beautiful pictures of the west end of the park before UC's recent "improvements" left it barren: