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Is that love in the air?

April 16, 2007

UPDATE: Roosevelt Park, Phase 2 -- uncovered!

“Really?! Kind of pungent for love, isn’t it?”

“Golly-gee! You know what that is?”

“No. I was born in a barn, Jerry is dead, Phish sucked, and DMB can go ‘Crash’ into brick wall for all I care.”

“Aghast! It’s reefer!”

Or so might go the conversation of passersby at Roosevelt Park only a few years ago on a warm April 20th. You see, for a while there, every April 20th a bunch of people would gather in Roosevelt Park, grab some grass, and burn one down. Illegal? Well, as long as ingesting marijuana remains illegal — yeah, but for awhile there, the yearly gatherings were tolerated. APD would gather, but nothing really happened. Well, that is until Mayor Martin Chavez decided to close the park on April 20th. Was there outcry? Sure, but the annual activities were illegal and the closure was temporary, so the Mayor had pretty solid ground to stand on.

“Great history lesson, but where are you going?”

I’ll tell you where— a few months ago I was driving along Coal Ave. passing by Roosevelt Park. The 13 acre site was fenced off — some landscaping and sprinkler improvements appeared to be going on. Ok, fair enough, it happens. Well, several months later I’m driving by the park and notice the fence is still up. What gives? The sprinkler trenches are covered and the new sidewalk cement has long since settled — why is the park fenced off?

Looking at my calendar today, I couldn’t help but notice that certain marijuana friendly (unofficial) holiday was coming up. I hopped on the city’s Parks website to get the scoop on Roosevelt Park. Right there, at the very top of the page, “Roosevelt Park Temporarily Closed.” The blurb below the headline said the park was currently in renovation “Phase 2.” Phase 2? What is Phase 2? The “renovation” hyperlink was down, so I searched the city’s site for references to the mysterious Phase 2. No luck. Phase 2, or Phase II — whatever it is referred to as — I can’t find it on the city’s website.

So put on your conspiracy caps with me… might there be a chance the city is keeping Roosevelt Park closed on 4/20 under the guise of renovation? Renovation is sure less susceptible to public scrutiny than a bunch of cops around a public park.

Now, before you tell me to put down the joint — let it be known, I don’t use marijuana or any other illicit narcotic. Personal choice, thanks. But back to the conspiracy…

So, is the fence surrounding the park only there to stamp out a local tradition? Probably not. Roosevelt Park is due some more money for renovations. (Bottom of page 19.) What these “renovations” are exactly — I don’t know. (Phase II, maybe?)

Nevertheless— it is pretty remarkable the park is closed on yet another April 20th. Conspiracy? I’d like to give the city the benefit of the doubt and call this a coincidence, but who knows.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I can hear the blades of the black helicopters overhead. Need to go put on my aluminum helmet so they can’t read my mind.

UPDATE: This morning I received an email from a city official with the down low on Roosevelt Park, Phase 2:

Just wanted to let you know you can take off your aluminum hat regarding Roosevelt Park. 😉

Phase 1 of the renovation occurred last year, where City crews trimmed more than a million tons of material (dead/dying branches) from the more than 200 elm trees in the park. We were able to keep parts of the park open, as crews only worked on one section at a time.

Phase 2, however, is a complete irrigation system replacement, as well as drainage improvements and new play equipment. Because of the scope of Phase 2, and because we wanted the grass to really establish itself, we needed to keep the park closed this whole time.

The park will be opened this summer.

Phew! Consider this conspiracy — crushed.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 17, 2007 4:34 pm

    A million tons of material??? Lets do the math: 1 million tons into 200 elm trees equals 5000 tons of dead/dying branches per tree? Seems impossible. I bet your 420 theory is correct. They are too lazy to remove the fence and let people enjoy the park between renovations and stoner closures.

  2. El Orange permalink
    April 18, 2007 7:57 am

    A million tons is an awful lot, no doubt. Perhaps a million tons is a bit of hyperbole, but anyone with greenthumb can tell you those 30 gallon trash bags weigh a ‘ton’ when they’re full.

    Like I said, I’ll give the city the benefit of the doubt. Roosevelt is a great park with a really interesting history — if it takes the better part of a year to clean it up, well, I guess that is just the price we pay… that and taxes. Stupid taxes.

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