The fence is down.
After three months of fencing off Garberville’s Town Square, the committee that manages the site has agreed to remove it.
The Garberville Town Square board met with Humboldt County Sheriff Mike Downey and Joshua Sweet — a representative from local businesses who petitioned for the fence — before electing to remove the fence. They heard both concerns and praise for the decision and received encouragement from both to remove the fence.
“We’re bringing it down,” said Garberville Town Square President Nancy George as the meeting concluded.
The committee and their guests met in the open air of the square on Wednesday, Nov. 9 and spent their time with Downey to ask about recommendations for the fence’s removal, as well as, monitoring the site once it’s open to the public again.
Downey assured the committee that his deputies could be relied on to enforce the law when anyone witnesses the law being broken. The committee floated an idea of an ordinance and Downey encouraged seeking one.
“I’m not the person who can write that ordinance,” said Downey to the committee. “But I encourage you to seek out those who can and see if establishing one for the square would work.”
Downey explained that seeking the appropriate civic leaders for the ordinance would be the next steps. When asked about cooperation with the Redway-based Garberville CHP, Downey explained that he works in conjunction with fellow departments when necessary, but priority for patrol of the area would need to come from local CHP leadership.
After Downey’s departure from the meeting, local businessman Sweet joined the meeting to hear of the committee’s plans post-fence removal.
Sweet had led the original petition that called for the square’s closure after repeated criminal activity in the square, and remains the liaison between the board and the local business community.
Talk turned to an idea of 24-hour paid security for the town that Sweet felt was a solution — mainly to fill in the gap left by lack of 24-hour law enforcement patrol — but would have to be supported financially by the community. The committee reported to Sweet that their cost estimate of the security would be around $80,000 a year. That discussion was tabled until financing could be secured.
Sweet referred to the posted sign in the square that asked visitors to respect three rules; no smoking, no dogs and no alcohol, as well, to limit their time to one hour per day. It was agreed all around that if visitors can adhere to those rules there is no need for the fence to return.
Reached by phone before the meeting, Laura Lasseter, executive director of the Southern Humboldt Chamber of Commerce said that she was pleased to hear of the plan to remove the fence.
“Sometimes, we don’t appreciate something until it’s gone and not being able to enjoy that square was a real eye opener for a lot of residents,” Lasseter said by phone. “Perhaps we needed that wakeup call and hopefully now we can keep it open.”
In 2001, the Garberville Town Square was founded and incorporated. After several years of fund raising the group purchased the then vacant lot in 2004, as well as design development with the community and a local architect. So far there are beautiful flower beds, a shade structure and decorative brick hardscaping among other improvements. Through ongoing fund raising efforts additional phases of development are being completed. The board is working toward a long-term goal to build a public restroom at that location.