Double Standard for Public Access?
Do you live in a preferred neighborhood? One of the ways to know if you do is when the local school district trusts you to set foot on the school grounds when you feel like it. Like, for example, if you want to access a Nature Area on the other side of the school property. Down at Rio Americano H.S. they let you do that, even if you have your dog with you. You can get to and from the American River Parkway by going through the school grounds. And that's how it has been at the old Creekside school site. For decades the public has been able to travel through the school district's property there without incident. When it was an actual elementary school, no one messed with the kids. People understood not to disturb the kids at the school. After the school district declared the site surplus to their needs, the school buildings were rented out for private school purposes, or used by the Sacramento County Office of Education, or converted to an adult education facility. In all that time the public enjoyed unfettered access to the facility's open space as well as the Creekside Nature Area. Yet they did not disturb the facility's occupants. They just continued to walk their dogs, chat among themselves on the periphery of the site, ride bikes on the trail near the creek or just enjoy the open space. If you have never hung out at the Creekside surplus school site's open space and/or the Creekside Nature Area, you will be surprised at the constant flow of people there, be they parents, kids, old folks or young adults. That usage makes particular sense when you understand that adjacent properties include large apartment complexes and a whole lot of duplexes whose residents cherish the openness found at the school site and the connection to nature at the creek and the Park District's 1.8 acres of riparian oak forest. All that is set to change if the San Juan Unified School district gets away with its plan to plunk a large middle school at the Creekside site. Their Facilities people have signalled their intent to gate off the entire site. And, as the District has done at its other schools, the public - the taxpaying public - will be continually shut out from access to the open space and the public park (the Nature Area). But take heart, because the Head Facilities Guy said in a pubic meeting earlier this month that once the new school is built, anyone who wants to access the Nature Area can go into the school administration building and ask a clerk for permission to go there. Yeah, he actually said that. Hmmm...anyone out there among our readers have an opinion about that?