Monday, June 24, 2024

Danehy Park has safety issues and a Band-Aid keeps the irrigation from failing again. Broken branches hang in trees over paths where children play and mothers push babies in strollers. The safety markings of the separated bikeway have faded away. The adjacent pedestrian way needs repair. Instead of maintaining what we have, the city continues its historic policy of spending money to build the new, redundant, Danehy Connector on the other side of New Street.

But wait, there’s more.

Last summer, our city didn’t fix Danehy Park’s irrigation for four months during deadly drought and repeated heat waves. Now it says there were “only 10 dead trees,” as if that’s acceptable. The city’s Urban Forest Master Plan says for private and public alike that “our first priority must be to remove fewer trees unnecessarily and to extend the lives of our trees through improved management practices.” Instead, the city itself killed public trees through negligence.

Now the city manager reports the irrigation is operational when documents from city staff show it’s a temporary fix. The permanent repair may be in the purchasing process with a legal roadblock. We are on track for making the same mistake twice.

The manager’s announcement of a multiyear Danehy renovation process does not work for trees. It continues the city’s historic policy of “let it run down, remove it and replace it,” yet trees take decades to grow – they cannot be immediately replaced with a bunch of saplings, especially now that climate has changed. City policy must also change.

The care of our parks is scattered incoherently across many departments: Community Development; Human Services; Public Works; Traffic, Parking and Transportation; Purchasing; and Law. The chain of command flows through three assistant city managers and one deputy city manager. No one has a singular mission of protecting our parks and trees.

Fortunately, the city manager is in charge. Tell the manager to put someone new in charge of all our parks and trees – someone at a level who can get the cooperation of all departments. Someone with good judgment.

Charles Teague has been advocating for preserving the tree canopy and Linear Park since 2016.