Don’t ‘Develop’ Golden Gardens

Preserve nature in the park

By Jere Rosemeyer

My wife and I and our friends have been walking the trails around the Golden Gardens Park’s ponds for a number of years and have grown to love it just the way it is. The wildlife habitat, out off Barger west of Beltline, has become our church; where we go to spiritually recharge. Not only do the specific plants and animals matter to us, but it is one of the few places I can think of where you can see that you live in the south Willamette Valley. You can see the full sweep of the Coburg Hills to the east, the Coast Range to the west, north to Mary’s Peak, and much of the South Hills. On a clear day you can even catch a glimpse of the Three Sisters.

The “development” of the wildlife habitat will consist of a major sports complex, including baseball fields, playing courts, various buildings, roads, parking lots, sports lighting and as much further “enhancement” as the city can include in order to make the complex a tourist attraction. This replacement of grassy fields with concrete, asphalt and astroturf will definitely interfere with my enjoyment of the park. But what affect will it have on the wildlife? Those fields are not empty. They are currently the home of many wild creatures and are the feeding territories of red-tailed hawks, harriers, kestrels, egrets and herons, not to mention large flocks of Canada geese, robins, swallows and killdeer.

Does my desire to preserve the full extent of the wildlife habitat make me a NIMBY elitist? Well, the “development” of the park won’t affect the resale value of my house as it probably will affect the houses that currently surround the park. And I do confess to not being a sports fan.

With that said, I want to ask the proponents of the complex, and Eugene in general, a question. What do you think Eugene’s children will need most in order to cope with what will be the defining challenge of their lives, namely the increasing tension between global warming and ecological overshoot on the one hand, and our society’s increasing pursuit of infinite growth on a finite planet, on the other? More sports complexes? Or more places where they can learn to appreciate the limits that nature imposes on growth?

If Golden Gardens Park must be “developed,” I suggest turning parts of it into a permaculture experimentation site, which would not only enrich the curriculum of local students, but perhaps attract eco-tourism dollars.

I encourage more folks to visit the park and form their own opinions and share them with city planners.

Jere C. Rosemeyer moved to Eugene in 1972 and spent his time involved in peace and social justice activism. He moved away, but returned in 1980 and has lived here since. He appreciates Eugene’s commitment to climate resilience and preservation of natural areas.

This viewpoint has been updated to reflect the city’s bond measure does not affect development at the park.

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