Letters to the Editor

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I read a story in the Sacramento Bee that the city of Sacramento is paying its residents to rip put their water-guzzling lawns. Sacramento’s City Council voted to a “cash-for-grass” program, which will pay Sacramentans 50 cents for every square foot of grass they tear out and replace with drought-tolerant landscaping. 
Nearby Roseville, which has the oldest “cash-for-grass” program in the country, pays $1 per square foot. That city has granted about 500 rebates since 2008, with residents replacing some 350,000 square feet of thirsty grass with drought-tolerant plants. 
Why can’t our city leaders institute such a program here? 

— Marc Klein

The Alameda Sun received a copy of this letter sent to the Alameda Recreation and Parks Department.

In regard to the Clark Bench in Jackson Park, (“Commission to Decide Future of Isabelle’s Bench,” March 13): it would be a shame to demolish this landmark. I hope you will decide against it. Please at least delay such a drastic decision.

— Patricia Edith

The Alameda Sun received a copy of this letter and the city’s response to it, which follows. 

Dear Recreation and Park Commission Member:
I cannot attend (the Recreation Commission) meeting about the future of Isabelle’s Bench in Jackson Park. I would like, however, that my comments, in the form of this letter, be added to the official minutes of the meeting and considered by the commission. 
I walk my dog through Jackson Park nearly every day. I have seen much of the “bad behavior” that takes place in the park. Unfortunately, this behavior is not confined to Isabelle’s Bench. It takes place throughout the park, mainly on the open benches and picnic tables near the bandstand in the middle of the park.
Isabelle’s Bench represents a unique and important part of the history of the Jackson Park and Alameda in general. The proposal to demolish it is akin to “throwing the baby out with the bathwater.”  Why should we let a few teenagers exhibiting “bad behavior” condemn an irreplaceable piece of Alameda history?
I have the utmost respect for our fine police force, but the argument that Isabelle’s Bench provides “concealment for bad behaviors” just doesn’t hold up to the facts. Many, if not most of the inappropriate and illegal activities in the park — public drinking, smoking, marijuana and drug use — take place on the open benches and picnic tables with very little concealment.
My solution to the bad behavior is simple: Increase police presence in the park, especially between 3 and 6 p.m. when many teenagers gather there. Perhaps some good old-fashioned beat cops strolling through the park now and then would also help. 
It’s ironic that Jackson Park is designated a “Smoke Free Park,” complete with signage to that affect. Yet I witness day in and day out dozens of smokers, many in groups, throughout the park and no one issuing warnings or citations. 
Let’s simply enforce the laws that exist instead of throwing away an iconic piece of Alameda’s history. 


— Jeff Heyman

Hello Mr. Heyman:
Thank you for contacting us and providing your feedback. I will provide your comments to the Recreation and Park Commissioners in addition to other residents’ comments so that they can include them in their consideration. 
The city has received strong complaints from residents, who live directly across from the bench, and expressed concerns about the ongoing illicit behavior at that site.  The safety issues are also evident by the amount and type of trash items picked up daily by the Alameda Recreation and Parks Deparment maintenance staff.  
I have spoken with Police Chief Paul Rolleri and the Alameda Police Department (APD) is going to increase patrolling Jackson Park.  However, Jackson Park has always been a problem for APD.  Its officers do patrol that area frequently, write many citations, make arrests and otherwise send people on their way.
We are certainly open to ideas and alternatives. Funding is also an issue but I am open to working with residents to raise the money needed to renovate the bench in a way that will satisfy both safety concerns and maintain the integrity of the bench. Thank you.
— Amy Wooldridge, Director, Alameda Recreation and Parks Department