By DAVID GREEN
Riverside Park’s transformation from a somewhat neglected city park to a natural area within the city hasn’t gone all that smoothly. Right from the start, temporary signs explaining the change were destroyed overnight and vehicles drove through the recently planted area.
Some people were not willing to let go of their concept of the park: a small off-road-vehicle recreation area.
City workers erected a barrier along the restoration area to keep vehicles out, but vandals still drove through the high ground and down the hillside—in fact, they still do today. The ruts are deepening and the barrier has been challenged and now hangs slack. It’s too bad that barriers are even needed, that people have to be forced into understanding that city park land is not theirs to destroy.
Morenci police officers drive through the park on occasion, but of course they can’t be everywhere at once, nor do they provide 24-hour coverage. The secluded nature of the park makes it impossible to monitor without a close-up look.
We urge any park visitor to jot down a license plate number of a vehicle driving off the road at Riverside. Police chief Larry Weeks has expressed his interest in putting an end to the destruction at the park, but it’s likely to take an assist from the public to get the job done.
Riverside is a unique feature of this community. It’s rare to find a forested, unmanicured park within a city. The area looks like a mess to many eyes, and not just because of the beer cartons often left behind. The transformation from overgrown park to a natural, wild area is a messy process. Nature needs some time to work its magic.– March 15, 2006