The many faces of Cemetery Park

November 21, 2008

Who knew that a noteworthy tract of land could mean so many things to so many people? Wednesday evening’s special city parks and rec commission meeting in Ventura was packed to the gills with people voicing their views on Cemetery Park, that quiet, green tract of land between Poli and Main streets that has been gaining quite a bit of noise lately.

The meeting was held to unveil a concept project for the cemetery-turned-dog park; erection of a memorial wall, planting of lush gardens, along with some thousands of grave markers, so costly that even the concept plans seen last night amounted to more than this writer’s annual salary.

But it looked like every penny went into the study, and the contract team behind it even took into account the terraced memorial garden, proposed for the park’s far end, as a reflection of Ventura’s local ecology and riparian habitat. It’s an attempt, they said, of recalling the “memory of the earth” as a mirror to the city’s work in recalling the memories of the 3,000 dead interred there.

I’m not so sure many of the residents in attendance at the meeting — many longtime and retired — warmed up to the glossy L.A. design of the concept and presentation. There was a sense in the room that nobody knows the needs of Ventura like they do.

Yet, if it was up to a popular vote, opinion would be split three ways: should we preserve Cemetery Park for what it once was, keep it as the parkland it is today, or agree to compromise?

It may not be that simple, according to a very perceptive audience. One man questioned the study’s lack of addressing storm drainage capacity.  Another man, the heritage of the interred’s Chumash members. And still, praise from another woman who has family buried there.

One thing I’m wondering is: are we doing this more to please the living of Ventura, or the dead?


One Response to “The many faces of Cemetery Park”

  1. mimici06 Says:

    Ya, I’m one of those who’s not big on the city hiring outside consultants. It may be time for a new guard in the “Ivory Tower”, lol.

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