By Stephen Labovsky
Each and every day, scores of dog owners, nature lovers, and parents escorting their kids to Silver Tree pre-school, walk down Alms Road, a road that dates back to the 1870’s. Now unless something happens in the next couple of days, parts of historic Alms Road, and many of the 150 year-old eucalyptus trees that give it its character, are going to be bulldozed to make way for new tennis courts— tennis courts nobody asked for or want.
Now if this news comes as a surprise to you, Rec & Park will insist you shouldn’t be, because you approved it. Yep, go to their website and you’ll see that Rec & Park boasts that at a dozen community meetings, folks were given the opportunity to decide what Glen Canyon Park should look like in the future.
The trouble with Rec & Park’s claim is, it’s a lie.
If you actually take time to read the minutes of those meeting that appear in the public record, I believe you’ll come away with a very different impression. (http://sfrecpark.org/glenparkproject.aspx)
You’ll discover that not a single person in this community voted to spend $5.8 million dollars to destroy Alms Road and create some grand, Glen Canyon Park entrance-way, and new tennis courts. Instead Rec & Park employed a process they call ‘workshops’ where groups of individuals are asked to use red, yellow, or green dots to indicate their preferences. Afterwards, Rec. & Park claim they connect all these dots, and come up with what they say is what the people really want. The whole process is insane, like reading tea leaves, except it’s done in secret and no one is allowed to challenge the conclusions.
Now I attended a fair number of those ‘workshops’ and I can tell you that there was lots of dissent, but all of that dissent has been purged from RPD’s public record. In fact, my impression was that most people wanted the $5.8 million dollars spent on repairs to the Rec. Center. In my opinion the entire process and their conclusions are a fraud!
Now reader of this blog and its sister publication, the Glen Park News will be forgiven for believing that the current appeal to stop the Glen Canyon Park Improvement Plan, an appeal to be heard on Nov. 14th, is a frivolous one, and intended only to obstruct the will of the good folks in the community. Nothing could be further from the truth.
If you attended the last Glen Park Association meeting on October 6th, you know that there were lots of people there who voiced their strong objections to the Glen Park Improvement Plan, and wanted it stopped. At that meeting, Scott Wiener and Michael Rice pledged they would hold a special summit meeting, and have Rec & Park answer our questions and objections, many of which you’ve read here. Despite this promise, Michael Rice has refused to honor his pledge. Of course Michael would do that, wouldn’t he?
Never the less, RPD and some member of our community continue to insist, ad nauseam, that the process was democratic. Now my idea of democracy is when people get together, exchange views, debate, and then vote. In the Rec & Park version of democracy, people get together and watch RPD power-point presentations, break into groups, then place red, yellow, and green dots on a scoreboard. Then big brother (read RPD) goes away for awhile, then come back and tell you what you’ve decided.
If Alms Road does disappear, very likely there will come a day when more and more trees will disappear in addition to the 57 currently slated for RPD’s chainsaws. Soon familiar trails you’ve walked along for years will be off limits. Then one day, your dog will wonder into a restricted area, one reserved for ‘endangered’ native species, and someone will write you a hefty ticket. When you go to court to pay fine, I hope you’ll remember way back when, in November 2012, and recall how it all got started.
In closing, I’ll leave you with the lyrics of Joni Mitchell’s song, “Big Yellow Taxi.”
“Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what’s you’ve got til it’s gone,
They paved paradise,
Put up a parking lot.”