Revisiting the rangers' role

The articles “Indulging a passion for open space” on March 16 and “Council picks new parks chief” on March 17 reminded me of how valuable our parks leadership and staff is, and how grateful I am for their dedication to enhancing the recreational amenities in our flatlands and foothills.

Deukmejian Wilderness Park, whose project managers include the brilliant John Pearson, is a true gem in the city's crown of open space, and the “passion” that describes his colleague, trails specialist Jeff Weinstein, promises more good things to come for us who cherish our chaparral canyons and vistas.

However, the articles also give rise to the issue of our continuing need for park rangers.

A few years ago, this city of 220,000 reduced our already-paltry quartet of rangers to two, then redefined job descriptions to “naturalists” who were no longer allowed to carry firearms, with park law enforcement duties relegated to our already-stressed police department.

Skills unique to rangers, such as all-season law enforcement in rugged terrain at trailheads and on trails, and with elusive lawbreakers and wild animals in the mix, have languished. The city needs to revisit the viability and practicality of the ranger's role as it relates to maintaining park safety through law enforcement, as well as fostering respect for park habitat through education.

Sorry, but when one thinks of parks — national, state, or otherwise — one thinks of rangers. One thinks of men and women on foot, on horseback or in trucks, with varied skills, including safety and protection, guidance and inspiration, aid and assistance. Areas of expertise might vary, with specialties in biology, ornithology, geology, archeology, paleontology or history, and duties run the gamut from fireside stories to firearm skills. And, of course, overseeing park maintenance.

These are the qualities and responsibilities we're missing in Glendale parks, and not only do we need their role restored, we need more of them to carry it out.

With the coming Riverwalk phases, trail linkage and expansion in the Verdugos and foothills, expanded camping experiences, and continued heavy use of Brand Park's ragged trail system and dicey environs, the city should reopen the matter of advantages associated with the ranger contingent. In doing so, it should reserve non-park urban law enforcement to the good men and women of the Glendale Police Department, except in dire emergencies that require both entities.

The City Council and parks commissioners need to assess and address this issue. There are others out there who feel as I do. Real parks need real rangers.

Joanne Hedge


Confusion over court ruling

It appears to this admitted non-lawyer that even some of our nominally most eminent-domain-knowledgeable press professionals have been giving short shrift to the U.S. Supreme Court's 1954 ruling on Berman v. Parker — the case that Kelo v. City of New England was predicated on (“Ron Kaye: The happiness factor,” March 4).

It seems quite clear that if it weren't for the court's 1954 ruling, members of the Glendale Redevelopment Agency could not have viably pressured Golden Key Hotel owner Ray Patel to sell his hotel because it is obviously not tawdry, and I'd wager not legally “blighted,” either.

The Kelo ruling, meanwhile, clearly seems to have subsequently held that a city could not only use the Berman v. Parker eminent domain ruling to take even such non-blighted property for a “public use” — a new school, park or other use, the redevelopment of a slum or blighted area — but do so with a broadened “public purpose” intent that allows the transfer of the property to another private property owner. The new owner (i.e. Rick Caruso) would purportedly redevelop the property in such a way that it would produce more revenue to the city than the former business did.

Harvey Pearson

Los Feliz

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