Berkeley’s People’s Park Doomed?

One of the places my friends took me on my first visit to the Berkeley campus in San Francisco was the legendary People’s Park.

Located just south of the campus, the 2.8 acre park became famous in the 1960s as a place of protest and the epicenter of the Free Speech and anti-war movements.

Over time, however, the park has taken on a more dubious role in the community. The heavily wooded oasis offers hidden sanctuary for drug users and other reprobates while the homeless routinely use the park for various bodily functions. The area, in fact, has become so dangerous that university officials warn students from even visiting the park.

So, what to do?

The university has created a commission to decide the future of the park. Bulldoze the trees and bushes? Put in a building? Keep it as is?

Naturally, Berkeley being Berkeley, various “save the park” groups have sprung up to protect this historic venue of free speech. Nobody wants to lose a park, but I think everyone agrees that something must be done to improve it in some way. According to the LA Times, the university has “committed $100,000 to study ways to reshape the park to better serve the public.” Let’s hope the university makes the right decision and keeps the spirit of the 60s alive in some manner or another.