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City Council agrees to fence off South City Park, a short term solution for a big problem

Redding City Council approves fencing around South City Park

After hearing a large amount of public input at Tuesday's Redding City Council meeting, council members agreed that South City Park will be fenced off as a short term solution to the criminal activity that's currently taken over the park.

Tuesday night the atmosphere at the Redding City Council meeting was heated as the topic of public safety at South City Park was discussed. A unanimous "yes" vote by council members gave the approval for the fencing.

The project will go all the way to Market Street, excluding the parking area.

A second amendment was motioned by council member Julie Winter, asking City Manager Barry Tippin and Director of Community Services, Kim Niemer, to come back with a process and a plan to open the park for permitted use. Former Redding Mayor and current council member, Brent Weaver, brought forward an additional amendment requesting the Redding Library staff look into restricting WiFi use outside of the library, as community members have suggested this may also be a reason for loitering.

Former Mayor and current General Manager for the Redding Colt 45's Baseball Team, Rick Bosetti, is leading the fencing project. He said the combination of fencing and other proactive measures have made Tiger Field, where the baseball team holds their home games, a safe environment for fans.

Council members agree this isn't the ideal decision but it's a short term solution they believe will deliver better long term results.

"I hate to say it's come to this but I would rather have it closed than to allow what's currently happening there to continue. And I want to be clear that we're not targeting the homelessness, we're targeting criminal activity. We're targeting people that are drug dealing, prostitution, and the open drug uses there," Council Member Julie Winter assured.

Redding Police Chief Roger Moore was called to the podium after public comment on the issue. He added conditions at South City Park resemble a prison court and the police department is overwhelmed. He reported that in six months officers have responded to 625 calls to the park alone. Some of these calls are due to the proactive measures RPD has taken the past eight months but ultimately the level of criminal activity at the park is overwhelming.

Chief Moore agreed fencing will push the criminal element other places. However, Moore states his officers are determined in keeping up with that movement.

"I do know that community oriented philosophy is anytime you go into an area, you hit it heavy with enforcement and you set a tone and then you come back in and start programs, you talk with the community and you develop collaborations and trust between community members," Moore added.

Many people are opposed to the idea of a fence. The council noted the fence will not be permanent.

"I, along with former mayor, Rick Bosetti and others, will do everything we can to help those who want to improve their environment but I would make this statement: I believe it is more compassionate to be tough on this type of behavior than to facilitate and feed that behavior because they will never change until they're compelled to change, so I am very excited to second that and again, we look forward to the day when we can take it down," Council Member Brent Weaver stated.

The city plans to work with community members who have presented creative ideas on what to bring or construct in the park that may attract people in a positive way. There are two groups that have proposed ideas to revamp the park to attract people for recreation.

Director of Community Services, Kim Niemer will be adding the park to Redding's current park reservations page. People that would like to use the park for legal, recreational activities will be able to reserve it online.

The Redding Colt 45's will lead fundraising efforts for the fencing.

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