Settling a controversy over whether a city-owned park ought to be beautified, the City Council this week voted to give it grass, an irrigation system and a few more trees.
The park, at Gilbert Street and Olive Avenue, now has no grass, prompting some nearby residents to dub it “the weed patch.” Garbage and broken bottles are scattered across the ground, and the area is a frequent target of graffiti.
One group of residents, who say they regularly pick up the trash and paint over the graffiti, proposed that the city improve the site for the hundreds of children who live on Gilbert and Olive.
Others, however, said that adding benches, grass and lighting would attract vandals, homeless people and criminal activity. They also said that more children in the park could be dangerous because motorists often drive fast on Gilbert Street.
“People speed on Gilbert,” said Jeff Beard, so children would be at risk of getting hit on their way to and from the park. “This is not a spot for a park. . . . I’d rather see homes in there.”
Park proponents, however, said the location is ideal and could be a haven for the 900 children who live in the neighborhood.
Councilman Don Bankhead said city officials agreed two years ago that “this property would be best used as some type of improved area for the children. I think it’s very appropriate to put grass in the area.”
Besides grass, trees and irrigation, the park also will get one or two benches and trash cans. Design details will be submitted for final council approval in September.