Friday, October 7, 2011

Peace Talks in Garberville

Posted By on Fri, Oct 7, 2011 at 4:10 PM

click to enlarge homeless-in-vets-park-garb-kymkemp.jpg

Back in July in sunkissed Garberville, residents/merchants and loafers/homeless engaged in a particularly wet battle in the war over Veterans' Grove, a little park on the town's north end where hordes of wanderers and folks down on their luck apparently have set up semi-permanent camp.

According to reports on SoHum reporter Kym Kemp's blog, "Redheaded Blackbelt" (from whence we stole the above photo), children urged on by their father (allegedly) had been launching water balloons out their window onto the homeless camp. Their campaign was met with a return volly of rocks and apples allegedly flung from the homeless hangout. From Kemp's July 12 post:

"An employee of the laundromat, Rebecca McFarland, says that last week she came to work to find folk at the park throwing apples and rocks at what she thought was her car and her business. A van of German tourists, she says, were upset and concerned that somehow their presence was causing the attack. According to McFarland, the tourists had planned to spend some time in town but left hastily. The attack she says was not on them or on her however but in retaliation for a continuing hail of water balloons thrown by some sort [of] launcher from above. Insults were hurled from the folk above to the "dirty homeless" below and insults were returned and so were rocks and apples at the "stupid rednecks" above. The bare chested man on the rock braved stinging assaults to hurl his own replies. Finally the sheriff called a time out and sent the bad boys to their respective corners."

The story unfolds further in the comments following the post, wherein the balloon-lobbing family engages in sharp words with another resident, who's pissed off at just about everyone, and the gist of the issue emerges: Lots of people like to wander off the nearby 101 and hang out in the 'ville for a spell. Some neighbors complain that some of these travelers drink and do nefarious things in the park, poop and pee and break stuff and, occasionally, stab each other.

Some people say there should be a portable toilet in the park -- and, indeed, one resident actually paid to have one put there but, because she didn't get a permit, she had to remove it. Others say a toilet would encourage more loafers and that a stern unwelcome would be more in order. And yet others say when you gotta go you gotta go and they oughta put a public toilet in town for everyone -- transient, tourist or what-have-you.

There've been meetings on the problem park, including a recent one at the Veterans' Hall in Garberville that got so contentious the Sheriff was called, according to local attorney Eric Kirk. Tonight, Friday Oct. 7, they're going to try again: Local bookstore owner and homeless advocate Paul Encimer and town cleanup guy John Casali are hosting another meeting, and have asked Kirk to facilitate. It's at 6 p.m. at the Vets' Hall. And this time, people have to sign up to speak and their time will be limited. There won't be any presentations or formal decisions.

"Basically it's a public meeting to gather thoughts," said Kirk by phone Friday afternoon. "And it will primarily be focused on whether or not there should be an outhouse at the park."

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Heidi Walters

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Heidi Walters has been a staff writer with the North Coast Journal since 2005.

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