The Garberville Town Square board met Sept. 11 with community members, country representatives and law enforcement to discuss plans to improve the town gathering space.
“It was a really productive meeting,” boardmember Katie McGuire said.
The square, located at 766 Locust St., has been a topic of concern around the town because of the prevalence of homeless people, crime and litter. This led it to being fenced off for two months last year after a petition to close it was circulated and accepted by the private owners of the land.
“It’s a unique challenge because it’s a private space open to the public,” Southern Humboldt Business and Visitors Bureau board member Laura Lasseter said.
According to the town square Facebook page, Garberville Town Square, Inc. was founded in 2001 and the purchase process for the land began in 2004 after years of fundraising. The vision was to have a peaceful space for people to gather and host events such as the farmers market.
Ideas were tossed around by people at the meeting including having a square staff member or volunteer monitor the square throughout the day to ensure the behavior code is followed, adding things like an information kiosk, bocce ball courts and chess tables to the square and stepping up the presence of law enforcement, McGuire said.
“That’s what the business people were pushing for this year, but it’s just a Band Aid, not a solution,” she said.
McGuire said Southern Humboldt isn’t the only place with ongoing issues surrounding homeless people.
“It’s not just the park, it’s the whole world,” she said.
But McGuire has another idea.
“We’re thinking of leasing the park to the county for like a dollar which would give the police more clout to police the park,” she said.
Humboldt County Second District Supervisor Estelle Fennell said that was one of the many ideas tossed around during the meeting.
“I think it was a step in the right direction,” she said about the meeting.
Fennell said the process to lease the property to the county would take a long time before it even appeared on an agenda for a Humboldt County Board of Supervisors meeting and people at the town square meeting want solutions faster than that may take.
“I’m open to any good ideas,” she said.
Fennell said she’s committed to helping the town square board achieve their vision.
“There’s going to be another meeting as I understand it,” she said.
People can support the town square by visiting it during Southern Humboldt Arts Alive on Oct. 6.
“They will actually feature some Arts Alive artists during their harvest fiesta,” Lasseter said.
The Arts Alive event is from 5 to 7:30 p.m. in downtown Garberville.
McGuire said the harvest fiesta will last from 4 to 10 p.m. and feature food, wine and three bands playing live.
“Come support the park,” she said.
More information is available at facebook.com/garbervilletownsquare.
Hunter Cresswell can be reached at 707-441-0506.