February 25, 2013 § Leave a comment
When someone proposed commandeering a chunk of “unused” reservoir property to use as parkland, I was aghast. “It’s not unused space,” I said. “It belongs to the coyotes.”
True enough: Everyone had their stories about seeing coyote kits gamboling in the field or coyotes slipping underneath the fence or coyotes sitting placidly inside the fence watching us watching them.
I liked having fallow, open space unsullied by humans. I worried about increased human-coyote contact if coyote habitat were curtailed. I didn’t relish more traffic and parking hassles. I envisioned pedestrians attempting to cross Silverlake Boulevard and being mowed down by cars.
The community split: You were either “Open the Meadow!” or “Save the Meadow!” The issue became so contentious that a Saturday morning public meeting held on the contested property drew more than 150 people.
The “open” folks claimed that the park would be a quiet place, “you know, where people come to sit and read poetry” (actual quote). Traffic? No problem: Visitors will come from the neighborhood; they’ll walk, not drive.
Nonresidents told us that if we didn’t open the land, we were being selfish. They said just because you have backyards for your kids to play in ( I don’t), doesn’t mean the rest of us shouldn’t have more space.
The openers won. Existing fence was torn down and moved closer to the reservoir itself. The walking path was relocated. Non-native plants were excised, trees planted, and sod laid.
After more than a year of work, the Meadow (it now required capitalization) was opened with great fanfare. I did not attend the ceremonies.
I couldn’t boycott the place forever, though. Several weeks following the opening, I walked through the Meadow; young parents with a toddler sat on the grass as their child ran free. Then, I “got it”: A vast expanse of open lawn safely enclosed by a low fence where no dogs were allowed was just what city kids needed.
Where else could you fly a kite? Where else could you lie back and watch clouds sailing by? Where else could you call up a few friends and hold an impromptu picnic? Maybe some folks even go there to read poetry.
The Meadow is not problem free. Traffic has increased and parking is at a premium. A strategically-placed crosswalk cuts down on—though does not eliminate—jaywalking, but the crosswalk’s traffic light ruins the view of Richard Neutra’s VDL House.
Even so, I don’t mind being wrong when the outcome is so right.