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Rankin Renovation Rankles Some Residents

City officials say the grading of the park is required to meet federal ADA requirements.

With the passage of in 2008, Martinez voters approved a $30 million bond to build a new , , and fix up the parks. So far, people seem happy with the pool and the library, but some folks are not at all happy with the way at least one park renovation project is going.

For the past two weeks, has looked more like a vacant dirt lot filled with rubble than a park, as earth movers and dump trucks cut into the once-verdant soil to level off the hillside property and make way for new playground equipment.

The project is going to be accessible for people with disabilities, as required by federal law, but to make that happen, city officials say that the park, which has a long and treasured history, has to be completely redone. And that is not sitting well with some.

One person objecting is Bill Wainwright, former city councilman and the great-grandson of the man for whom the park is named. He noted that of the 47 trees removed during the renovation, four of them were olive trees planted by his great-grandfather, James Rankin, and donated to the city.

“There were some beautiful old olive trees hanging over the benches,” Wainwright said. “Of those six trees, two are remaining. It’s a terrible thing they tore them out. Don’t see how they needed to do that for ADA compliance.”

Park, Recreation, Marina and Cultural Commission chairman Dylan Radke said the trees were inspected by an arborist, who determined that they were burned out, diseased and required removal.

“We are replacing those trees with twice as many mature trees,” Radke said. “The park is going to look beautiful when the work is done.”

But Wainwright was not convinced.

“Olive trees don’t get diseased and infected,” he said. “Those trees were in good health.”

“So the grand park we had is no more, to be replaced with a run of the mill playground,” said Mark Garris, who said he grew up near the park. “It was a gift to Martinez to prevent this kind of development from going on. It wasn’t just a gift to do what the hell you want with.”

Garris said the city “snuck in in the middle of the night” with no notice to the community that the work was going to take place.

City Engineer Tim Tucker responded that the plans for the park have been discussed at length with the PRMCC. He added that the renovations are necessary to bring the park up to ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) standards.

“Obviously we don’t want to grade an ounce of dirt,” Tucker said. “But we’re required to make site ADA accessible.”

He said similar grading will soon take place at Hidden Valley Park, as the city begins that renovation project.

p. mcmakin January 25, 2012 at 04:05 AM
Actually, many of the crude drunks are NOT "homeless creeps," but your fellow citizens who may live just a block or two away from you. I personally know of at least three people who all have issues with alcohol and whose very issues with alcohol leads them to do things they'd never do when sober. Need examples? Urinating outdoors... Throwing up outdoors... Standing in the street screaming and cursing at family members because they were asked to cease drinking for the night... Sneaking onto the grounds of the public pool and going 'swimming' while fully clothed... Taking the dog for a walk in the park while also taking along enough beer to keep several "homeless creeps" very happy... I could go on but there's not much point because I suspect you don't think anyone acts that way except the aforementioned "weirdos" or "homeless crazy people." Sadly, you'd be wrong.
McG January 25, 2012 at 06:02 AM
All of your examples are of people breaking the law. These people are unfit to be around children. And that’s my point. The city needs to put money into enforcing laws that MOST cities in the United States enforce. So is this the type of community you want to live in? A community where families can't enjoy a park because some bum is talking to people who aren’t there. And people like you think that’s a beautiful thing. Now that’s sad.
p. mcmakin January 25, 2012 at 06:59 AM
No, my point was to illustrate to you that you cannot label someone as a problem simply because she or he may be homeless. Substance abuse and addiction know no boundaries. The local politician is just as likely to suffer from alcoholism as the homeless bum, wouldn't you agree? So sitting on a bench is not against any laws of which I am aware. Harrassing citizens, yes. Urinating in public, yes. Minding their own business (even if that includes talking to the imaginary people in their minds), no. Certainly, I want my grandchildren to be able to walk downtown without being harrassed. And yes, I think everyone should be able to enjoy our parks without being accosted or stumbling over someone who's publicly breaking the law and ruining the park for everyone else. I just don't think we should ban or look down on another person simply because we see him as "some bum."
Debi Thach March 01, 2012 at 08:43 AM
I agree, they're taking the woodsy atmosphere out of our favorite park. Most of us grew up in that park. It's not fair for them to rip it apart!!! Debi Grisham-Thach
Debi Thach March 01, 2012 at 08:49 AM
We loved Rankin Park just the way it was. Yes, that toilets needed help, but the rest of it was rustic, very popular, and now; unrecognizeable. I wanted my Grandchildren to see 'my' rankin park. We live in Utah now, but visit our hometown Martinez 2-3 times a year. I'll miss going to that park. We are very disappointed!!!!! Debi Thach

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