The Pacific Park Board reversed its decision on renting Blackburn Park after citizens complained privately about it, according to Stephen Flannery, park board president.
“Our primary role is to protect and improve the condition of the parks,” Flannery said. “On park usage we always want to do what the citizens want, but we don’t always know what that is.”
Citizens often keep silent, or complain to the aldermen, hoping that aldermen will overrule the park board, rather than making their case to the park board members, Flannery said.
“My personal frustration on these issues is the lack of public debate,” he said. “I invite and implore citizens who use the parks to attend park board meetings and bring their concerns and ideas to the park board.”
Discussions about renting the bluff-top park arose after several weddings were held there. Park board members argued that wedding parties should not be disturbed by normal park traffic or tourists coming to view the cannon.
The board proposed renting the park for private events and closing it off to the public during those events.
Some board members felt the park should never be closed off. They argued that people should be allowed to hold weddings there, but the park should not be closed to other visitors.
“In the end, we think not renting it is what most people would want,” Flannery said. “But it would have been helpful to know people’s wishes as park board members discussed the issue.”
The park board is made up of qualified individuals who are impassioned about the park system and who are willing to do the committee work that drives improvements and usage, he said.
The board spent more than a year reviewing and streamlining the park rental fees and forms to make them uniform and easier for citizens to navigate.
The rental of Blackburn Park was discussed across the entire gamut, Flannery noted.
“Members debated the pros, cons and compromise of renting the park,” he said. “Although some had valid reasons for holding out for rental, in the end we did not want the forms and fees schedule to be held hostage to the Blackburn Park rental issue.”
The park board sets rental fees for the pavilions and playgrounds in the park. In the future if there is a gazebo constructed at Blackburn, the park board may revisit the rental schedule to include that pavilion, Flannery said.
The park board meets the second Monday of the month at 6 p.m. in city hall. The meetings are open to the public and a public participation item is on the agenda.