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Hidden park could be real gem

I talked to several people about the cleanup and Shakespeare performance at Carter Park that happened over the weekend. Not one of them knew where it was and only one person had even heard of it. When I explained that it was that small park near the bridge, right downtown, they still had no idea.

And why would they? It is hidden by overgrown plants and, since the staircase was removed, has one access point on the very far side of the Stone Pine Center parking lot.

I have on occasion taken head-clearing walks down there and have only ever seen one other person, and he looked to have been camping there for quite some time.

It is not a very inviting spot, but I think it has enormous potential. Take a walk down there and imagine that all the blackberry and stinging nettle were removed and the park could embrace Pilarcitos Creek rather than be hidden from it. And imagine that you could see the park when walking across the bridge and that there was a staircase that led down from Main Street where people could bring their lunch and find a picnic table.

There would of course be a mountain of permits, red tape and financial considerations before anything could happen, but just look what an impact a small group of volunteers had on the park in just an afternoon. We have a creekside park, studded with mature redwoods just waiting to be appreciated and improved. Let’s not turn our backs on this diamond in the rough.


I wonder if some of the hundreds of thousands of dollars our City Council has spent on consultants had been directed toward this once wonderful area would we have this situation. Perhaps the City Council could divert a few thousand dollars from the renovation of the softball diamonds to refurbish this park.

Thanks, Mr. Murray for highlighting this issue. It could indeed be a real asset to the citizens of Half Moon Bay.

> imagine that all the blackberry and stinging nettle were removed and the park could embrace Pilarcitos Creek rather than be hidden from it. And imagine that you could see the park when walking across the bridge

It's good there's interest in Carter Park. I love that it's a hidden gem tucked away right in the heart of downtown HMB... a quiet spot to chat or contemplate life over a cup of coffee. Easy to find, still easy to get to, peaceful.

Yes, flood-resistant improvements would be welcomed. I'd chip in and help too.

But, no, I can't imagine advertising the park by hacking away its natural vegetation to expose it to bridge traffic... You go there to get away from that anyway. Carter Park is amply advertised to anyone interested in HMB environs through signs, maps, brochures, events and stories like Bill's.

Another issue- Removing vegetation to open an ESHA creek bed to park and foot traffic would be a tough row to hoe, permit wise. It's not worth the hassle or recommended. Pilarcitos Creek is a migration route for animals and a steelhead waterway, and local groups have worked hard to restore the habitat.

But who knows, maybe a restoration plan with native vegetation replacement could dovetail with park improvements. So much depends first on the bridge replacement. It's a long haul.

Something less ambitious, less intrusive would be ideal for starters.

IMO, leave it continue to be untamed. Too bad about the invasive plant species, but the indigenous wildlife have become accustomed to it, so let it be. Want a city park? Mac Dutra.

I love the idea of a weekend clean up and would love to participate in it. But, it should be kept a hidden gem.

Obviously some of the posters here never visited this lovely little park when it was first completed. It was not over run with vegetation. It was a nice creekside lawn area to stroll amongst the redwoods and relax in. The area has become overgrown as a result of our City's inattention and carelessness.

"Come visit our parks" says the City's advertisement. "Carter Park a pleasant grassy area nestled in a redwood grove"

Web Link

Just Sayin: I do agree that it is peaceful. But this is partly because there are very, very few visitors to it. And, in my opinion, a park on Main Street that has few visitors means it is not a terribly successful park? You mention that it is easy to find and easy to get to. I would contend that is neither of those. Unless you find yourself on the sidewalk on the far side of Stone Pine Center, or work where the old Odwalla office was, it is all but invisible. And since the entrance is at the furthest possible point from Main Street probably deters those that do stumble across it. Maybe the area below the Tin Palace could be a model?...a simple grassy area with a picnic table and close to the creek...but not too close of course.

John: I'm not sure Mac Dutra can be considered a 'park.' Right now it is a patch of concrete now that the tables were removed.

Stacy Trevenon did a piece on this titled "Public invited to ‘Take Back the Park’": Web Link

I commented to that piece. Below are those comments:

"A great idea, however turning a great idea into a reality will be two completely distinct and separate matters. I wish them success, but here are a few things that might get in the way:

1) The "bridge" mentioned is the Main Street Bridge, which is slated for removal and replacement. That project will take years to complete and a myriad of Agency stamps that will be required to get there.

It is of no surprise to me that the "Chair" of Parks and Rec didn't even give that a thought in considering the proposal. HMB outsourced the HMB Park & Rec department (just like all the rest of HMB's departments) to RWC. It would appear that there is a 'disconnect' between Park & Rec, Mr Pickett (any relationship to Wilson?) and the City of HMB; not at all a surprise.

2) Carter Park sits in an ESHA (environmentally sensitive habitat) and as such is severely restricted in terms of Any development. From the piece (in part): "Pickett’s vision is for a raised stage spanning the 30-foot-diameter circular area in the park, along with seating, dressing rooms, open park space and eventually landscaping design." That is called development and development in an ESHA is a razor's edge short of impossible. Mr Pickett can expect to get to know the Coastal Commission staff very well in his efforts to do something that would be of huge benefit to us all.

Great idea and I wish Mr Pickett more success than he expects, but it would appear at first blush that more thought and clearly more effort than initially thought will be necessary than just a vision or dream. I only wish I had some constructive words of wisdom to help; I don't.

Good Luck, Mr Pickett. If I could offer only one word of advice, that word would have to be - patience."

Ideas like this one are wonderful ideas (visions) that can and would benefit us all, but things change over time. As good an idea as this is, I have to admit that the process that will have to be addressed to turn idea into reality may well be a task too large.

I wish Mr Pickett and his group all the Good Luck they can handle on this, but I have to wonder if their efforts and all the luck available will be enough to realize the potential of what Carter Park could be.

It is just stupid to let it grow wild and destroy itself as a park. I'm sure it can be cleaned up to make it more hospitible without destroying habitat. Half moon Bay needs everything it can get to make it more attractive.

Bill, I'll counter that although it needs some upkeep, Carter Park is certainly not unsuccessful. "Success" isn't defined by the number of people who tramp through a place, it's whether it fills a need in the community.

And it does: it's the only quiet place Downtown to get away for a few minutes of relative privacy in a natural setting. Away from "The Hand of Man," so to speak. Don't discount it.

The character of the land and legal restrictions dictate what kind of park it should be, or whether it should even be a park. This land is in and adjacent to a major ESHA. That's the important criteria, not that it's near Main Street and the Bridge (which again, is a major player in whatever happens with Carter Park).

Therefore it's suitable for low impact uses only. It's not suitable as a high volume, high visibility, visitor serving workhorse of a city park.

It can handle more volume but please not through picnic tables. Picnickers expect trash can service or they leave garbage all over. As you said, the access to the park is poor. It's poor for trash pickup too. Wooden benches subtly reinforce the "pack it in, pack it out" mentality while being warmer than stone.

We might miss the lawn that was there but knowing it's going to be flooded again and covered with mud, well, how much should we put into it? Yes, we should keep the vines trimmed back or put in some kind of limiter. But that will need approval too.

I can't agree, Bill, that no one knows about it- almost every time I go someone else wanders in or out. Carter Park is listed everywhere, with a sign near Main Street. Maybe it's just a publisher's instinct to *make* *sure* *everybody* *knows* *about* *it* *now*, lol.

If tourists see the sign they can walk 200 feet like the rest of us. No big deal. And hey, walking to the far entrance might even work up an appetite for one of the several excellent restaurants they'll pass by!

But let's stop thinking of this little oasis as a "Main Street Park." It's not in its character.

Here is a recent video of a trip through Carter Park

Web Link

I would HIGHLY recommend that you mute the sound if you are going to watch it.

Maybe they'll make the property owners on either side pay to fix it up.

The camera man seems to have a butt fixation. Those are some wierd folk. I hope I don't run into them in a park.

Nah, just bored tourists trying to be clever. The camera man was a female, judging from the voice, unless it was an eunuch. A pretty dull video.

Was anyone surprised by the poll on Carter Park visitors? Last I saw, 57-58% had actually been there.

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