Shifting Sands at Otis Park
Seaside neighbors envision a makeover for neglected landmark.
Thursday, May 6, 2010
For years, Seaside’s Otis Park had been looking shoddy – weed-covered, sand-swept, and often frequented more by drug dealers than by families.
Inspired by the volunteer clean-ups of nearby Martin and Durante-Farallones parks, Carol Mikkelsen is ready to do something about it. In early April, Mikkelsen marched 200 flyers door-to-door in her neighborhood, drumming up support for a clean-up of the blighted, 2-acre space on Mingo Avenue and Highland Street.
About 30 neighbors attended an April 10 organizational meeting. The group announced its effort at the following City Council meeting, and on April 26 met with city staff.
The next morning, the Seaside Parks Department began hauling off broken concrete and trash, clearing weeds and moving the sand that had obscured park features. Two days later, the crew was still working while Mikkelsen and three fellow activists admired the progress.
“Neighbors are starting to see that it could be a neighborhood park again,” Mikkelsen says.
Ronnie Lindfield visualizes new playground equipment for kids and terraced seating for their parents. Dale Presson suggests surrounding the park’s non-operative cannon with brick pavers bearing the names of local veterans, at $50 each, to raise funds for other improvements.
Volunteer Ann Quamen praises the Parks Department for its quick response, and the Police Department for increasing its presence on the drug-plagued corner.
Assistant City Manager Jill Anderson says the city was ordered several years ago to cut off water for parks; financial and staff resources are also constrained. But the city agrees to help with labor, and possibly matching funds if the neighbors can get a grant.
“We want to leverage the energy and enthusiasm these residents are showing,” she says. “We can get a lot more done working together than separately.”