LETTER: Planner of Westside park closed because of vagrants decries its lossSept. 9, 2018
It was with sadness that I read “Vagrancy snuffs 'backyard' park that neighborhood sought in 1990” (see Westside Pioneer article at this link).
As the planner and landscape architect retained by District 11 for the project, I recall the enthusiastic community effort that had gone into getting funding and development approved for the West Junior High School Backyard Park (this and the East Junior High School Backyard Park were companion projects funded and developed concurrently by D-11).
At the time, no one could have imagined that the recently removed pavilion in particular would become an “attractive nuisance” to the neighborhood. Rather, it was envisioned by all as an amenity to be enjoyed by WJHS students and staff, residents, and civic organizations alike.
The master plan for the park strategically located the pavilion at the highest point of the Backyard Park site to afford the greatest view of the entire park - this was no doubt considered when District 11 officials and neighbors of the park celebrated completion of the project with a ribbon-cutting ceremony beneath the structure.
Perhaps the saddest part of the WJHS Backyard Park's demise is the realization of the much larger problem that is increasingly affecting our city. It begs the question: if we are unable (or unwilling) to adequately police and maintain a community asset of a relatively small-scale, 2˝-acre neighborhood park, how will we handle something of a much larger scale such as a downtown stadium or other public venue?
Bill Guman, RLA, ASLA
William Guman & Associates, Ltd