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LETTER TO EDITOR: Windsong Park Fence Will Need To Stay

The author suggests Wildomar's Windsong Park needs to be fenced in the name of public safety.

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 Monty Goddard. The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily shared by Patch or its employees:

Just prior to the vote in November 2012, on Measure Z, the parks funding tax, the following letter from one of my neighbors was published in the Riverside Press-Enterprise newspaper:

”I understand the desire to support Measure Z and have family friendly parks in Wildomar.  The problem is the inability to police our parks.  We live across the street from one of the parks that closed.  When we moved in we thought it would be great to have that lot transformed into a park.  Several years later that came to fruition, then the problems started.   There was drug use, littering, vandalism to our property, a break in to our garage, loud music, fights and more.  The police don’t have the personnel to respond in a timely way.  Since the park closed there has been peace.  I know we hate looking at a fenced off park and dead grass, but it beats the alternative.”

To this neighbor’s very well written letter, I would add “after hours, late night, and early morning loud partying”.  I would also add, “We now have two thirds the police force we had during the majority of time Windsong Park was last open, so law enforcement response times to issues emanating from the re-opened park will be even more abysmal.”  With these additions this letter succinctly captures my concerns.

When the City parks were last open, we had two patrol deputies on all three shifts to cover a 24 hour day.  Subsequent to the parks closing, a serious hit to the City’s budget, resulting from budget decisions made by the State, forced the City to reduce law enforcement staffing.  We now have only one shift with two deputies assigned.  The other two shifts have one deputy on duty.  This staffing is for a city of 24 square miles and over 33,000 people.

The impact of these cuts was reported on by Sheriff Capt. Dave Fonteneau to the Wildomar City Council in January 2012.  An average response time for a Priority III call for service, an example of which would be fighting in the park, is approximately 85 minutes, or double what it was when the parks were last open.   Average response time for a Priority IV call, an example of which would be after hours; trespassing, loud noises, or partying is over 150 minutes, or more than triple what it was when the parks were last open.  I have confirmed, two years later, these response times remain valid.

Bottom line is we do not have adequate law enforcement and the City does not have the general fund revenue to provide adequate law enforcement.  The upcoming re-opening of the parks WILL result in more police “calls for service”.  No one doubts that.  Response times will increase even more.

Without a secured fence Windsong Park attracts the after–hours problems because the word is out.   For all practical purpose, it is not policed. 

Until such time as the City can effectively police Windsong Park it should remain fenced with the gates opened during the dawn to dusk hours the park is supposed to be enjoyed.  This would be consistent with how the City’s other neighborhood park, Heritage Regency, was operated the entire time it was last open.  Although, I cannot prove it, In the 1999/2000 timeframe I had many discussions with a gentleman named “Dan” who lived at the corner of Raspberry Lane and Prairie Road, and walked almost daily by me house.  He brought up the then closed park and claimed during the period Windsong Park was operated by the now defunct Ortega Trail Recreation and Park District in the 1990s, he successfully led the charge to force the District to erect a fence with one gate which was secured during the hours of darkness to mitigate the otherwise uncontrollable Windsong Park security related problems to close proximity neighbors.  This was the fence and gate the County removed when they re-opened the park in 2006.  In addition to reducing the negative aspects of the park on the immediate neighbors, physically securing the park during the hours of darkness will reduce graffiti and vandalism in and to the park.  From my very personal experience; 8 years with a fence, 4 years without a fence, and then 4 years with a fence, FENCES DO WORK!

As a last thought, I have often been asked by those who have heard me express my Windsong Park security concerns, why I bought a house which backs up to it.  It was June 1998.  The park was closed at the time but I new it could be re-opened.  Honestly, I did struggle prior to making my offer to purchase.   The house and property I purchased certainly had a long list of pros.  Living next to a park had its pros and cons.  Parks can be attractive.  On the con side of the ledger, I listed the noise, traffic, and parking.  I did not list vandalism to my property.  I did not list trash, including beer bottles and used condoms deposited on my property.  I did not list sleepless nights, having to listen to after hours partying, yelling, drug dealing, and the park being used by overnight squatters.  I certainly expected, based on growing up in the not so affluent part of Riverside CA, and with close family having a house nearby backing up to a park just like mine now does, that the park would be routinely patrolled and police would respond in a timely fashion when a problem arose.  What a mistake on my part……!

One Wildomar blogger who wants the fence removed is urging all Wildomar residents to weigh in on the Windsong Park fence issue.  Obviously, folks living more than a block or two away from Windsong Park, like the aforementioned blogger, will be overwhelming in favor of the fence removal.  The lack of law enforcement for the park is no problem for them.  Kind of NIMBY (Not in my backyard) in reverse.

Your neighbor, acting as a private citizen,

Monty Goddard

EDITOR'S NOTE: This issue is expected to come before the City of Wildomar Parks Subcommittee on Tuesday Jan. 21 at 6:30 p.m. The public is invited to attend. The meeting will be held at Wildomar City Hall, 23873 Clinton Keith Rd., Suite 201.

Ken Mayes January 16, 2014 at 09:23 PM
Monty - I feel your pain. As long as the community is not engaged in actively supporting what a park is, due to the city council shutting out citizen input, and the sheriff's department does not actively support neighborhood watch programs, job security, numerous problems will occur at all of Wildomar's poorly located parcels called parks. In the past I have called them wastelands because they were parcels developers would not touch due to numerous problems associated with them.
Becky Honkington January 16, 2014 at 10:18 PM
Call me crazy but I don't want to live in a neighborhood that puts ugly, ghetto-style fences around their community parks. I'm glad I have the education and in-demand job skills to have a choice in my basic lifestyle. Wildomar is not looking like a promising option.
Ken Mayes January 16, 2014 at 11:54 PM
Becky - don't want to be a part of the solution to a serious problem, bye-bye.
Becky Honkington January 16, 2014 at 11:56 PM
Bye, Ken. Stay miserable.
Gil Rasmussen January 17, 2014 at 02:29 AM
Monty; Although I originally disagreed with your position, your compelling arguments eventually changed my mind. Good luck in your quest for the "peace and quietude" all of us are entitled to in our homes and castles.
Don Lambert January 17, 2014 at 07:22 AM
You stated their is a severe shortage of police manpower. I have heard that one police officer per thousand of population is considered appropriate. Lets hope the problems with the state will get resolved so Wildermar gets more money. Also the tax assessor's valuation will jump significantly for January one this year so that should help with the property tax money you with get about a year from now. ....... Meanwhile you have made very good reasons to keep the fence, at least until the city can afford to hire a lot more deputies.
Ken Mayes January 17, 2014 at 10:53 AM
Becky - I will stay miserable until this city can gets its head head out of its collective behind and start behaving like a real city.
Martha L. Bridges January 17, 2014 at 06:35 PM
Don, if we used the long accepted standard of one police officer per thousand of population, that would require 33 officers, though not all would necessarily be sworn officers out in the community as some support personal are needed. Anyway, we are a long, long way from that number.
Jon Laskin January 17, 2014 at 07:05 PM
@ Monty, there are other solutions, as we talked about, you don't really want the fence either, you want quicker response times, when you need it....Other than deciding to leave up an otherwise temporary construction fence and adding the staff and expense for maintaining both the fence and its double daily maintenance every day of the year into perpetuity. The biggest issue is that Measure Z does not support either this new and debatably offensive expense or its double daily, annual maintenance. At best you have a separate issue, that would need separate funding, and, at least for now, the City must remove this temporary construction fence when it opens the park as mandated by the Yes vote on Measure Z’; namely to “To reopen closed community parks” ……. I voted YES on Measure Z, I also kept the voting book – lets review what we voted Yes for. Z Measure to Save Wildomar Community Parks. “To reopen closed community parks, prevent closure of Marna O’Brien Park (the last open City park), restore funding for recreational services/community events, maintain safe playground equipment, clean public restrooms, sports fields, and youth/children’s recreation/after-school programs, restore park security patrols/safety lighting, and remove graffiti; shall the City of Wildomar levy $28 per parcel annually, with required independent financial audits, and requiring that all funds are used locally.”….. To reopen closed parks – the fence must go. We voted to restore park security patrols/safety lighting – so that should satisfy Monty and the few people who live across from the park…. We have voted for park security patrols/safety lighting – not new fences and a crew that now needs to lock and unlock Windsong Park. These funds are earmarked for clean public restrooms – Windsong Park needs one! – also Youth/children’s recreation/after-school programs…as well as funding for recreational services/community events, maintain safe playground equipment – NO NEW FENCES AND CREW TO LOCK AND UNLOCK this otherwise Open Public Space.
Ken Mayes January 17, 2014 at 07:12 PM
Jon Laskin - nothing in Measure Z prevents a fence from being erected for Security or Aesthetic reasons. The City Council could if they wish deem the parks will be open for 15 minutes a day and it would be legal.
Jon Laskin January 17, 2014 at 07:19 PM
LOL @ Ken, democracy at its finest. – when are the lists of the new recreational services/community events and youth/children’s recreation/after-school programs at Windsong Park be available – will they be sent to us? Also when will they be installing the clean public restrooms at Windsong Park as mandated specifically by the Yes vote on Measure Z? we need to spend more of our time and attention on creating and maintaining positive youth programs for our kids in the parks, and not on how and when to fence it to keep them out. Windsong Park was built and designed as an Open Public Space.
Joseph Morabito January 18, 2014 at 01:42 AM
I like Monty, he's a good neighbor and I've had many pleasant conversations with him regarding this fence and other topics. I can see that he's beleaguered by this issue, and I wouldn't choose to change lots with him. Still, I will be going to the parks meeting and will be on the "No Fence" side of the ledger. As I told Monty this evening, whether the fence stays or goes, I look forward to future chats with him. Other than the fence, he and I share many similar POVs and can't imagine having a falling out over an issue that is truly out of either one of our hands. I find it comical when people bemoan how "Wildomar isn't a community" then try and splinter it further when people have divergent political opinions. There is nothing worse than a sequacious lock stepper. I do however enjoy reading the flip flops on this issue... I guess it's just "evolution" in progress. _________________________________________________ Jon, have you called the city and spoken to someone in charge? You aren't going to be getting any reliable info from the comments here [and when it comes to "city business" I'd include my comments to be just as 'suspect']. I have no details, but I was listening to city staff speak of a future bathroom at Windsong Park during "Bark in the Park" day.
lotsahelp January 18, 2014 at 10:22 AM
1) the park belongs to all of the citizens of Wildomar; 2) Joseph is correct with regards to information from certain bloggers-you really should request a mtg with the city manager and a council member; 3) we have a community-some just choose to sit on other side and root against the "home team"; 4) There are parks all over that do not have fences, people are not traveling from all over to hang in that park; 5) The fence is ugly and useless; 6) I bet even if we had tons of cops Monty would want the fence up.
lotsahelp January 18, 2014 at 10:31 AM
I wonder how many of the other neighbors have made calls to the police or have been bothered by this seemingly center of parties and hell raisers! I say someone needs to talk to them too!
wildomar resident January 18, 2014 at 02:20 PM
This Mr. Goddard seems to be very strong in his opinion about the fence. I think the fence should come down. I don't doubt there are occasional "problems" at the park but I can't imagine really bad people are going there when we have so many other open areas for them to congregate without busy bodies constantly watching. I suspect Mr. Goddard is one who has decided that since he lives next to the park then he is in charge of the park. I bet this makes him hypersensitive to people using it even during normal hours. Perhaps instead of a fence the City puts up a big sign that says "Warning! There is a neighbor who watches this park 24/7. Enter at your own risk!" I know that would keep me from using it.

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