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LETTER TO EDITOR: Fence At Wildomar's Windsong Park Will Need To Go

The author suggests the community focus on quicker police response times rather than security fencing to enclose Wildomar's public parks.

Patch file photo of Windsong Park in Wildomar.
Patch file photo of Windsong Park in Wildomar.

The following letter to the editor was submitted by Wildomar resident Jon Laskin. The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily shared by Patch or its employees:

At least one long-time local resident and his family are concerned that, in their opinion, the City of Wildomar is considering changing the fundamental design of Windsong Park by allowing the construction fence that was installed on the street side as a way to close the Park to the public, to remain up after the park reopens.  

“I think that this is wrong, ugly, and takes away from the sense of Public Open Space that we voted for in supporting local parks and public open spaces,” expressed Jon Laskin, a resident of Windsong Valley. “Also, because this park is so small, I think that it could become dangerous if anyone was having a picnic with their kids playing on the equipment or playing basketball, let alone walking your dog on a leash, while any of the dogs running loose in the area get inside and the only way out has been fenced in."

In Laskin’s opinion, Wildomar’s Windsong Valley community was planned with such attention to beauty and esthetics in making this a desirable place to live and raise a family that they went to the extent to bury all the service lines.  

“I love that but, this unsightly construction fence contradicts this beautiful planned community,” Laskin said. "I just spoke with [a neighbor], whose property is adjacent to the park. He bought in 1998, a period when the park was closed, but not fenced in on the street side at the time and it was obviously a public community park that one would reasonably expect to reopen in time. I feel for him as he has had negative encounters with people that abuse the park and his concern is in keeping the park closed, when it is supposed to be closed, under the premise that when needed, local police response time is upwards of 2 1/2 hours.  However, this fence was never a part of the design of this park and leaving it up would fundamentally change that design that encourages a feeling of Open Space…. A Public Open Space.  Leaving the security fence up, that was only installed to close the park, would effectively create a new, Public Closed Space.”

Laskin suggests that the community focus more on quicker response time when needed, rather than security fencing enclosing our public parks where none have previously existed.

This issue [is expected to] come before the City of Wildomar [Parks Subcommittee] on Tuesday Jan. 21 at 6:30 p.m.  What do you think?  If you are against leaving the fence up, that was meant to close the park please email Bridgette Moore: bmoore@cityofwildomar.org and/or go to the meeting and express your concern.

Ken Mayes January 16, 2014 at 02:35 PM
I feel for both sides. The fence is ugly and does restrict the feeling of openness, but I can understand the concerns of the residents of the 6 homes that back up to the parks. Unfortunately Wildomar is stuck with this poorly located park. Rather than expect the sheriffs department to drop everything to respond to intruding citizens (primarily young adults) in the middle of the night it would make more sense to figure out exactly what these young people require in a place to hang out. Maybe an area located as far from homes as possible with a limited range Wi-Fi so they can listen to tunes and chat. Some will say they should be at home in bed but the reality is they will hang somewhere and it should be in a safe location.
lotsahelp January 16, 2014 at 04:03 PM
There are many, many parks in the valley with no fences and house around them(lost road in canyon hills, marna, etc etc etc) and they manage to survive. Even with a larger police force are we saying we have that many more troubles in that park than others in the valley? As far as a place far from homes for free wifi for "young adults"(are we talking teens or those in their 20's?While it sounds "nice" it is hardly practical. I really am not sure why or how we go about doing that and how do other communities(if any have such a thing) make sure it doesn't turn into a party location? how much money do we have to spend creating that area, policing it and maintaining it?How many would it benefit? How do we make sure no pedophiles take advantage of the free wifi? Do we take some portion of the 27 acres we were given to do that? Our history shows that we have large contingent that complain any time we spend ANY money. To me a free wifi area is a nice thought but way way down on list of things we need. __Anyone with a few bucks can hang at starbucks for free wifi...
spike January 16, 2014 at 05:11 PM
Wow whats up with Wildomar folks and their parks? You guys are PARK crazy out here.
Joseph Morabito January 16, 2014 at 06:00 PM
Well said Jon Laskin... well said.
Martha L. Bridges January 16, 2014 at 06:04 PM
What larger police force? Our police force is so thin that even serious incidents must wait for response. Ever since the City of Wildomar's incorporation we have had nothing but repeated reductions in our police force, which now has only one or two sworn officers on duty at any given time - to cover 24 sq. miles. Windsong park has always presented policing problems with vandalism, drugs and illegal after hours activities which have not only presented problems for people who live close to the park, but also additional costs for repairing the damage done by vandals. If city officials decide a fence is the answer, then it should be a new and better one. However, I have doubts that even that will protect the park from problems. As Ken Mayes has said, Wildomar is stuck with a poorly located park which IMO invites trouble into the neighborhood. With our limited budget, how much money should be spent on policing this park and the after hours visitors it attracts?
Jon Laskin January 16, 2014 at 06:26 PM
Allowing this temporary closure fence on Windsong Park to remain, as well as being an eyesore, would directly result in assigning precious little City of Wildomar funds to staff members who now and forever into the future,… twice a day, seven days a week – and they better be there on every Holiday (increased pay?)… to both lock and unlock the gate… – would anyone care to “run the numbers” on that ridiculous expense, and with all the other issues in the City, why this would even be approved as a “smart” addition to the City’s annual budget for this and every year into the future? Don't City staff already have enough to do... How does this Add to our quality of life? How much extra will this cost the City annually, what else could these funds be used for to better serve the community as a whole?
Jon Laskin January 16, 2014 at 06:36 PM
Logistics and Costs… every day at Dawn to unlock, and every day at Dusk to lock the gates. Although those times of day change through out the year,… the City of Wildomar will begin to instruct City workers to otherwise drop what they should be doing, to drive from where ever they are…. Their new job would be to be at Windsong park, to lock and unlock the fence? Huh… Yes, the park is already assigned City workers to maintain the park, but this is a whole new responsibility, and very restrictive commitment of both time and money. Is this really what City Staff and workers should be burdened with after over 20 years of a very small, but beautiful public Open Space park?
Joseph Morabito January 16, 2014 at 06:37 PM
Jon, let's not forget the constant upkeep and repair it would take to keep looking decent even if it were a new fence. No fence... no upkeep.
lotsahelp January 16, 2014 at 06:41 PM
I am with Jon. BTW I wrote "even with a larger police force" most reasonable people would understand it to mean that "even if we had a larger police etc etc etc" Oh how is the park poorly located? It is near a large population center of the city, it is easy to get to and it is a nice park. oh I forget-always a complaint, even if something that is irrelevant to the discussion.
Ken Mayes January 16, 2014 at 08:51 PM
For all of you freaking out about the extra money to open and close the park if the fence should be left, this is already in the budget as a private security patrol will be assigned to patrol the parks several times overnight. Comparing an 18 acre park with a buffer zone to a 2 acre park surrounded by homes is just ridiculous, especially by one who admitted that their own issue used to hang there after hours.
ChrisG January 16, 2014 at 08:54 PM
Why is a fence required? The park serves a neighborhood. If there are after hours noise complaints I'm sure a simple phone call by a neighbor will get the police to clear out the park quickly. If the city cannot support these parks maybe they should consider putting the land up for sale.
Jon Laskin January 16, 2014 at 09:01 PM
@ Ken Mayes: I was not aware that there is currently there “is already in the budget as a private security patrol will be assigned to patrol the parks several times overnight”, that will be there EVERY DAWN AND DUSK EVERY DAY OF THE YEAR, to lock and unlock this small park….
Jon Laskin January 16, 2014 at 09:03 PM
Are there other City of Wildomar parks that this same City crew are already assigned to “open & close” Windsong Valley Park every day of the year at Dawn & Dusk.. or is the City of Wildomar approving the expenses of a new task force “unit” to be created and assigned for this one new sole purpose. How much will this new task force, assigned with opening and closing Windsong Valley Park every day of the year at Dawn and Dusk going to cost the City of Wildomar in Crew, yearly extra vehicle expense, mileage, gas, employee wages total as a new line item expense, that will “just be added to the annual budget” each year? If they open and close other parks, which park will be assigned 1st, as there is only one “Dawn & Dusk”. Also, how much time will be allotted to “close” the park at Dusk each day of the year, for instance if a family is just finishing a B-Bque… or a group of friends finishing a game of hoops… Will the City just open their expense book for as long as it takes to empty the park to secure it each night? I really feel for the people who chose to buy property next to a park, or a school, or along side the freeway… I also do not understand how they can complain about being there after the fact….. and that should not now, and out of the blue, create new expenses for all of us.
Ken Mayes January 16, 2014 at 09:30 PM
Jon - FYI the city has $6,200 budgeted for security patrols and and additional $2,200 budgeted for camera's. Maybe someone should ask what happened to the $10,000 that came out of Community Block Grants for camera's in a previous year.
Ken Mayes January 16, 2014 at 09:35 PM
Jon - excuse me, it was $12,000 for camera's at Marna O'Brien Parks approved on Dec 9, 2009 City Council Minutes Agenda item 3.4 during which time adding sensors at the park was also brought up. The city has known park security would be an issue.
Jon Laskin January 16, 2014 at 09:54 PM
Thank you Ken, for helping to make my point, daily and nightly security is one thing... Opening and Closing a public park at different hours throughout the year, every day, twice a day, and enforcing a park closure that clears family's and friends from a public park every evening is quite another. The patrols already have a budget to work with that was approved to patrol during the day & at night to avoid problems... assigning them to also be there, or anyone, every day of the year at Dawn & Dusk to lock & unlock the gate as well as clearing the park every evening, is an added and new expense, that just does not make sense.
Ken Mayes January 16, 2014 at 10:06 PM
Jon - no one is going to chase the sun, they parks will more than likely open at 6:00 am and close at 10:00 pm. This is the same way it happens in most cities with or without a fence. Even in cities with massive police forces parks are a problem area when the citizens of a community feel no connection to those parks. In cities with community involvement neighbors will notice a child doing wrong and call the parent. In communities with active watch programs, a group will determine if police involvement is needed and a watch captain will call directly to an officer assigned to those areas. The city of Wildomar is so fractured and on its way to getting worse due to closed off groups of homes, their own private amenities, which will now be treated different because of the city-wide CFD's paying extra for police and fire for these localized areas.
Jon Laskin January 16, 2014 at 10:20 PM
Ken - we are on the same side on this... but tell me... the people who are pushing for the temp fence, at Windsong Valley Park, be left up, and maintained every day & night... would they have been happy with the park being locked up at 10pm (tonight, 5 hours after dusk) is this really what the park neighbors are asking for and expect ..... Added costs and logistics that this park was designed to not have.
Jon Laskin January 16, 2014 at 10:23 PM
What we need, And therefore voted for.... is Public Open Space,... you can not fence your way into a better society.
Ken Mayes January 16, 2014 at 11:51 PM
Jon - I feel the current fence is uglier than sin, but I also see a need because of the lack of Community involvement in the parks. Until the community feels an ownership of the park system, which the City Council has managed to squash for whatever reason and the City Council gets behind a Neighborhood watch program, because the sheriff department isn't going to draconian measures are necessary. Bottom line, its time for local control not another layer of bureaucracy.
Martha L. Bridges January 16, 2014 at 11:56 PM
This little half-pint park has some unique challenges. It has always had them, and no amount of rehab work is going to change these inherent problems as they are part of the basic park design(or lack thereof). There is no off-street parking, there are no restroom facilities, and the back side of the park drops off into rough terrain that cannot be secured with or without a fence, which makes it hard to control illegal activities and vandalism. It draws people into the neighborhood - many of whom have no connection with either the Windsong area or Wildomar. These facts have always been a bone of contention for people who live near the park or in the immediate area.
Jon Laskin January 17, 2014 at 01:18 AM
THE SOCIOLOGY OF FENCES & GATES IN OPEN PUBLIC SPACES Kaid Benfield’s Blog ‘Gated communities’ are not necessarily safer Subdivisions secured by gates intended to exclude outsiders may not be safer than those that are fully public. This is because they can lack the social cohesion and interaction with the larger community that for millennia have served as deterrents to crime and other antisocial behavior. Members of the economic upper class (or those who wish to be seen as such) have sought refuge in “gated communities,” which collectively house some 12 percent of Americans, over the last couple of decades. “Gated” they certainly are, but the extent to which they are “communities” is open to debate. Environmentally, there is no doubt that they severely limit street connectivity, which in turn lengthens walking and driving distances. A desire to prevent crime (presumably committed only by outsiders) is sometimes cited as a rationale for privatizing and sealing off what would otherwise be public space, but the theory may not be sound. Writing in The Charlotte Observer’s blog The Naked City, Mary Newsom reports on a recent public appearance by Charlotte police chief Rodney Monroe: “After giving a short presentation Monday to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Commission, planning Commissioner Nina Lipton asked the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police chief whether he had any data on safety in gated versus nongated communities. "’We looked at that,’ Monroe said. The police and planning departments matched up communities as closely as they could, looking at income levels, multi-family, single-family and other factors. In terms of crime rates, Monroe said, ‘We saw no difference.’ "What matters in terms of neighborhood safety, he said, is who's living there: Are residents looking out for their neighbors? Are they taking responsibility? If it's a rental community, is there professional management? Are renters being screened for criminal records?” Peer Smets of VU University Amsterdam studies social and cultural characteristics of neighborhoods. He concludes that, in some ways, gated developments can actually increase fears of crime: “An increasing number of middle and high-income groups have looked to security measures, such as cameras, fences, walls and gates, to separate themselves from other people in the city. These physical measures, in combination with hired guards, replace the ‘older’ social control mechanisms, which are based on social cohesion within the community concerned . . . “Within their own enclave these residents tend to live in a bubble with its own system of governance, which enables them to escape the ‘unsafe’ external world. Once these upper and middle class residents are ‘fenced’ in against insecurity, their sense of a lack of safety tends to grow. These residents are caught in a paradox between individual freedom and employing social control to cope with criminality. Intensifying feelings of insecurity and lack of safety helps the private sector by creating a market for security technology and guards.” … SAY NO TO THE PROPOSED NEW FENCING IN OF WINDSONG PARK AFTER IT OPENS…

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