In the Pipeline: Hope on the horizon for Bartlett Park

November 05, 2013|By Chris Epting
  • From left to right, Joe Shaw, Suzanne Messina-Cervellon and Mike Cohen tour Bartlett Park.
From left to right, Joe Shaw, Suzanne Messina-Cervellon… (Chris Epting, HB…)

This is the second part of my column on Bartlett Park, which is located near the Newland House Museum in Huntington Beach.

It is also the place where two bodies were found this summer — apparently the result of a murder/suicide.

For decades the residents who live near the rugged and overgrown 27-acre rectangle of a park, where homeless encampments can be found nestled in the thick underbrush, have been trying to get the city to focus on cleanup efforts.

After walking the area with outspoken resident Suzanne Messina-Cervellone, I reached out to Councilman Joe Shaw to get his impressions of what is being done to help the area. Shaw lived near the park for years and still frequently walks his dog there, so he is well aware of the concerns.

On a cool, gray morning this week, Shaw joined me for a walk with Messina-Cervellone and 72-year-old Mike Cohen — another resident who has been vocal in pressing the city for answers.


As I wrote last week, cleaning up Bartlett Park will never be a quick and easy proposition because it involves many complicated issues. Nesting and other natural considerations hinder the trimming of the trees at certain points of the year, and high on the windswept mesa lay the remnants of yet another central issue.

As with the Bolsa Chica Wetlands, middens — ancient dumpsites — are visible in dozens of areas. Thousands of seashell fragments cover several acres.

So, bottom line, you can't just come in here and begin a clean sweep — at least not on the mesa. Down below in the heavily forested park is another story.

As the four of us walked the area, Shaw expressed his frustrations and agreed that Bartlett Park had finally topped the priority list, at least when it comes to local parks. Shaw shared that the city finally has some money for dramatic efforts to be made in the park within a year.

Like many of us, he finds the density and rugged nature of the park appealing in that it makes for more interesting hiking. But he also understands the frustration of residents when it comes to the homeless encampments.

The unsanitary conditions that arise as a result of the camps are a huge concern. The water channel that runs through the park becomes corrupted, and people's health is compromised. Campfires are also being lit given the cooler weather, presenting another danger.

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