OAKHURST – Everyone concerned about Oakhurst Community Park is encouraged to attend a meeting tonight, Wednesday, Sept. 11 at the Yosemite Gateway Association of Realtors building at 5 p.m.
“This is a community park and needs more community members to be involved,” says Andrew Pence, chairman of the Oakhurst Community Park Committee.
The meeting is to address ongoing safety issues and find solutions to problems surrounding the park.
“There’s no reason we can’t fix this problem. We all want the same thing,” says Pence, referring to law enforcement, board and committee members and the general public.
Despite increased patrol by the Madera County Sheriffs and volunteer Citizens on Patrol, the public park continues to be the subject of concern to many residents, who fear that drugs and crime are prevalent on the privately owned land.
The all-volunteer neighborhood watch-style group Friends of the Park recently announced they would no longer be available to monitor the area or provide ministry as previously offered, citing safety concerns.
Friends of the Park was led by Flint Tompkins who is expected to be present tonight. Representatives from the Sheriff’s department and members of the park Board of Directors will also be in attendance.
“I have been in contact with Flint and the Madera County Sheriff’s department in regards to recent threats made,” says Pence. “The committee is committed to the vision of making the park a safe and family friendly place.”
Pence is confident they can come up with effective ways to solve the current problems pretty quickly, provided they get the help they need from the community, which is part of what will be discussed this evening. He reminds residents that the Committee cannot operate effectively to achieve their goals without lots of community support.
Part of the complexity regarding the park and its rules stem from the fact that it’s a public park built on private land. Pence believes this may ultimately be an advantage, and meanwhile he’s studying the local ordinances, penal codes and Madera County codes that effect the park and its visitors.
He says it may be possible to cite individuals for trespassing and that a multiple violator could be prohibited from entering the park. Committee members past and present are verifying whether or not they will need to go before the County Board of Supervisors to change the laws. They may not have to.
What Pence and others want is for law enforcement to have greater authority over park matters resulting in a safer location.
Right now, the groups fighting for a safe and clean environment need more volunteer organizations and individuals to become involved on every level from maintenance to fundraising.
“I want people to know they have just as much control as anyone to do what needs to be done,” says lifelong Oakhurst resident Pence. “I look forward to getting Friends of the Park back in the park.”
Showing up at for tonight’s meeting would be a great start.
For information contact Andrew Pence via email or phone 559-658-7611 x 203.
Yosemite Gateway Association of Realtors is located at 40298 Junction Drive,Oakhurst, CA 93644 and the building shares the same parking lot as Sears.