Monday, March 24, 2008

Park officials address landslide concerns


Nearly two months since a section of Shoreline Park began sinking toward the beach below, a group of Mesa neighbors and interested residents gathered on the bluff-top park to hear an update report from city staff.
Many wanted to know when the sidewalk will be rerouted, when the stairs leading to the beach will be opened, and most importantly, if squirrels had anything to do with the slide.

“It’s a question that a lot of people ask,” said Jill Zachary, assistant director of parks and recreation. “The extent to which squirrel activity contributed to this slide, we don’t know.”
One resident seemed clear on his take, holding a sign reading “Squirrels did this” on one side and “Stop the squirrels” on the other, along with pleas to reinstate a poison control program.
Parks manager Santos Escobar said the city is requesting an exemption from the Integrated Pest Management program to use rodenticide bait throughout the park in the next few weeks. He told the crowd that park workers have trapped hundreds of squirrels throughout the park as part of an ongoing effort.
In response to other questions, officials said an irrigation system installed in the park six years ago had been pressure tested and did not show any leaks. Although there is no official cause of the slide, park officials said wave erosion and heavy rains during January could have played a role as well.
“In all reality, Shoreline Park has eroded for the past 40 years,” Zachary said.
She said plans for a geologist to examine and map the cliff and slide area are still in the works. With that information, the city will be able to determine where a new permanent fence and sidewalk can be built, and if park officials should be concerned about the restroom located near the slide site.
Zachary said there are no plans to stabilize the slope and the beach access stairs will remain closed due to safety concerns about portions of the cliff continuing to fall. Parks and recreation director Nancy Rapp said restoring the sidewalk and fencing will likely be the top priority for park project funds.
In response to concerns expressed about graffiti and exercise groups using the park without business permits, Escobar said a park ranger is currently in training and is expected join the city’s only ranger in the next few weeks.

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