LETTER: Paquin garden needs protection from vandals

Tuesday, March 17, 2009 | 11:25 a.m. CDT; updated 6:46 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, March 17, 2009

It is the beginning of our Community Coalition Gardening season here at Paquin Park, which holds our community garden.

Already this year our garden shed has been vandalized. Someone ripped the lock off the door, urinated in the shed and left beer cans and trash in the small space.

I've already sent a letter about people who practically live in Paquin Park, which is within 100 feet of the Lee Elementary School.

Here are the pictures I took before cleaning it all up.

Picture 1

Picture 2

Picture 3

Picture 4

Picture 5

This is just not right and it really cannot be allowed to go on and on. Something must be done this year to stop this ongoing yearly problem that the disabled residents who use the community garden have to put up with.

What do you suggest the disabled citizens do, go out there with shovels and garden rakes and beat these bums up and out of our park?

You know what I mean. It is ridiculous that the city knows this is going on and does nothing to help at all.

Disabled citizens love to garden too you know.

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King Diamond March 17, 2009 | 1:07 p.m.

I agree, this is absolutely atrocious. Steel Reserve is disgusting beer, and to buy it in a six pack would lead you to believe kids and not the homeless. At least the homeless have the experience to know that drinking mouthwash would taste better.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking March 17, 2009 | 1:23 p.m.

Steel Reserve is very popular among the homeless. It's better tasting than Camo Black Ice!!!

Actually, I find both of them grow on you :-)


(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr March 18, 2009 | 5:28 a.m.

Yesterday with no homeless or drunken bums hanging around in the Paquin Park children and teachers were able to enjoy a lovely early spring day out in the park on the small wooden stage that is there. It looked like they were reading stories to each other. There was also the faint whispering of childrens voices to be heard and some laughter too.

This is what this is about to is having this area free of the homeless,drunks,pan handlers and other undesirable people so even our youngest of citizens can enjoy this quiet and semi secluded piece of ground.

Thank you goes out as well to the CPD for the walk through they did yesterday afternoon.

Thank you goes out to the P&R maintenance guy who came and reinforced and fixed the lock on our garden shed so speedily.

Our garden area is shaping up very nicely and those who got their spots are in high hopes of being able to start planting very soon.

(Report Comment)
Mike Griggs March 20, 2009 | 9:05 a.m.

While I would love to weigh in on the pros and cons of Steel Reserve beer, my job as the Park Servives Manager probably restricts my comments to those of the park.

First, thank you Charles for the compliments on repairing the shed. On issues of vandalism and graffiti our department uses a "zero-tolerance" policy with a goal of fixing or removing problems within 24-hours of notification.

We have asked Paquin staff and those residents with concerns to call our Park Ranger anytime the homeless is in the park and is either breaking the laws or harassing residents. Unfortunately, nearly everytime the Ranger has responded, there has been a resident with the homeless who either says that they aren't causing problems or vouches that they are their friend. Thus, there's not much we can do. There's no law against drinking alcohol in the parks.

The Columbia Pulbic School district will be erecting a fence along the walkway that leads to the raised garden and we hope that this will help eliminate some of the problems. For more information on this fence, following this link to the Council Report on this subject:

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr March 20, 2009 | 10:20 a.m.

Mike Griggs thanks for chiming in but residents and staff (you remember Rosie don't you?) have called in so many times over the 4.5 years I have lived at Paquin that we are all sick of calling your office altogether.

Phil Steinhouse contacted me a few days ago via email and maybe you should really get with him on a proposal he is working on to go before City Council with. I think your department and him will be in agreement on it.

Yes it is an ongoing issue but I think this year with everybody concerned reaching across those tables in a bipartsan manner we can work together to fix this problem but it will take those in local government to help make it happen.

Some resident/gardeners are already cleaning up the garden itself but we need some of your man power to come over and haul off the old leaves and piles of refuse that has been created. I believe Sarah is going to forward her spring cleaning work order to you soon.

I would like to chat with you more on this issue and my email is always open at

Thank you for your time to respond.

(Report Comment)
Mike Griggs March 20, 2009 | 12:07 p.m.

Charles: I know Rosie very well and like I told her, it doesn't help to leave a message on my office phone at 8:00 pm telling me that there's homeless in the parks. When I get to the office and check it at 8:00 am the next day, it's too late.

If it's an emergency, you need to call 9-1-1 or the police non-emergency number if it's not an emergency.

Remember though, it is not illegal in Columbia to consume alcoholic beverages in the parks. It doesn't matter if you're homeless or not. Unless other laws are being broken, neither you nor I have the right to kick someone out of the park just because they're not a Paquin resident.

Here's the facts: In our past fiscal year 2008, the police and the ranger has 26 documented responses to Paquin Park. 16 responses are from June 1 to Sept 26. That's an official law enforcement visit every week. The ranger had 6 responses where there were either residents of Paquin in the park with the subjects or there were no laws being broken. This number of responses does not include the drive-by's that are conducted by the ranger. For this fiscal year, the ranger now has a mobile data terminal in her vehicle and she will document all visits to the park.

We have discussed the enforcement of the "intoxicated" ordinance, and will look at how that may be used to help out the Paquin situation. However, if that is enforced to the letter of the law, it will also apply to Paquin residents.

(Report Comment)
Ayn Rand March 20, 2009 | 1:23 p.m.

Interesting. So Paquin residents are part of the problem.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro March 20, 2009 | 1:32 p.m.

Dear Mr. Griggs:
Consumption of store bought alcohol, urinating in public and using and selling drugs in a small city park area, so close to a public school, which is and used by many sober Paquin residents, should not be tolerated by any concerned, decent citizen or public employee.
Considering the predatory nature of many of these "homeless" which Chuck is referring to, there will be some vulnerable, lonely, disabled Paquin residents who will get manipulated to believe that these "visitors" are friends. Any mental health advocate would hope for some kind of intervention, in these cases.
I do, however, question your stance on specifically pointing out that, "We have discussed the enforcement of the "intoxicated" ordinance, and will look at how that may be used to help out the Paquin situation. However, if that is enforced to the letter of the law, it will also apply to Paquin residents."
Why would anyone think otherwise?
No one is asking for preferential treatment. Just a safe, clean, park.

(Report Comment)
Mike Griggs March 20, 2009 | 1:57 p.m.

Wouldn't expect anything else from Paquin residents and users of this blog. It's just the facts. Nothing more. Nothing less.

We expect that all users of the parks follow the rules and regulations and will enforce such as required, no matter where they live. This includes harrasment of Paquin residents by Paquin residents (you know who they are).

Like I said earlier, the new fence should certainly help as it will eliminate the area where people can hide and cut through the park and the area where homeless like to store their bags and use the park.

(Report Comment)
Ayn Rand March 20, 2009 | 2:07 p.m.

Speaking of homeless, there's a big camp in the woods just south of Denver Mattress, between 63 and the connector. Is that state or city land?

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro March 20, 2009 | 2:30 p.m.

Dear Mr. Griggs:
Thank you for your response.
I know who some of them were, and some of them no longer are allowed to live at Paquin. Such should be the case.
I hope the situation at Paquin Park improves, even more so.
Ray Shapiro

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr March 20, 2009 | 3:35 p.m.

Mike Griggs thank you for your response and I have talked to Richard Craghead the President of the Paquin Tower Resident Association and he is in total 100% agreement of the entire area of Paquin Park being a "Zero Tolerance Zone" and said the PTRA will back this resolution if brought to the table.

That includes too any resident of Paquin Tower out in the park and in violation of that ordinance if it can be brought to the table before City Council.

As Ray Shapiro said sometimes a easily influenced resident is lead into believing they are friends,that those doing any form of illegal activities do get caught up in this mix which is too bad for sure.

Several who have been doing that in the past have been evicted from Paquin Tower. They took their luck just a little to far "all of the way around" and it caught up to them.

We welcome any help in making Paquin Park a "Zero Tolerance Zone" for the main following reason: It is with in 100ft of a school which should not only concern you the department head but every parent of every child in that school.

Would you want your children smelling urine or potentially watching adults relieve themselves or drinking in front of your children while they were in school?

I do not think you would or I would certainly hope not.

This entire issue is a reflection upon Parks and rec as a whole in alot of peoples eyes.

The question is do you want Parks and Rec to have the best reputation that it can or not? Right now with this ongoing issue in Paquin Park you and your department are not looking to good and certainly not the "flavor of the month".

Thank you for your time.

(Report Comment)
Jason Entermyer March 23, 2009 | 8:34 a.m.

Hey Charles! How would you like to see Paquin Park renamed to "Steel Reserve Park?" Check out Griggs' park blog. At least the P&R staff has a sense of humor. Here's the link:

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr March 23, 2009 | 12:09 p.m.

Jason Entermyer I highly doubt your suggestion will ever happen.

Nobody really has a sense of humor when you have to constantly put up with those undesirable people pissing in the corner of a garden shed,scattering trash and beer cans or bottles all over your garden,panhandling money,invading your building to sleep in the stair wells or when and if you find used syringes or drug paraphernalia around a place where they should not be located and especially with in spitting distance of a school.

We the residents of Paquin Tower do not think any of the above is funny from any view point.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr March 23, 2009 | 12:17 p.m.

They can only rename Paquin Park on one condition that every park in Columbia have it's name changes to:


National Association for the Advancement of Colored Parks.

After all we are "green friendly" and green is the color of our parks.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro March 23, 2009 | 12:28 p.m.

I used to have a sense of humor until P&R took it away.
(The Powerful & Rich.)

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr March 23, 2009 | 2:03 p.m.

Yet all the while Mike Hood/Mike Griggs together with Bill Watkins and Darwin Hindman continue to acquire land for yet more parks in our community,all the while neglecting existing needs in parks they already own.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro March 23, 2009 | 3:21 p.m.

One solution at Paquin Park is to make it smaller by fencing off CPS owned property, thus giving the homeless and vagrants less space to cluster.
I wonder how that would work at Douglass Park?
A year’s worth of headlines (2008)
Douglass Park has been in the news this year. A shooting April 16 injured two men. An 18-year-old man and a 25-year-old man sustained gun shot wounds in the leg and ankle, respectively. The Columbia Police Department was unsure if the fight was gang-related.
A June 12 stabbing sent two men to the hospital. The police found a broken bottle and fresh blood under the larger shelter near Rogers Street. That same night after Twilight Festival, a fight broke out among minors on the corner of Ninth and Walnut streets. The disturbance eventually grew into a crowd of 100 to 150 people and moved behind Douglass High School before police were able to disperse it. Police heard but could not confirm that someone was carrying a gun. In a rare move, the park was shut down for the rest of the evening.
On June 30, officers patrolling the area approached a vehicle in the small parking lot abutting Rogers Street. The smell of marijuana prompted a search that yielded a few grams of crack cocaine, prescription pills and a .38-caliber semiautomatic pistol. Besides issuing felony possession charges, the police discovered that three of the four vehicle occupants had outstanding warrants: Montez D. Quinn, 18, had a felony warrant for possession of drugs with intent to distribute; Bilal H. Hill, 31, had one for felony second-degree domestic assault, misdemeanor third-degree domestic assault and a misdemeanor traffic warrant; Justin E. Lewis, 22, had a felony warrant for possession of a controlled substance.
Most recently, in the early afternoon of Nov. 4, two men in a black Chevrolet Malibu pulled into Douglass Park’s smaller parking lot. Three independent witnesses say Grady F. Dortch Jr., 28, exited the vehicle and fired a small caliber handgun at Miles Heard, 28. Heard died shortly after arriving at University Hospital from bullet wounds in the right side of his chest and left thigh. Dortch was arrested for first-degree murder and armed criminal action after turning himself in a day later.
With the appearance of crack cocaine. An increase in drug activity and related violence led the police chief at the time, William Dye, to form a task force in the First Ward. Unfortunately, the efforts didn’t last.
“Douglass Park has been categorically grouped with Section 8 housing, poverty, drugs and crime,”
What Thompson knows is that some in the community see a lot of drinking, gambling and loitering at Douglass Park. They also see drug activity. “Visually, that makes the average person not feel comfortable going into the park.”
Because people fear confronting suspicious behavior in the park, the community remains silent, and little is accomplished.
(Source: Missourian VOX)

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr March 23, 2009 | 4:17 p.m.

ray shapiro alot are hoping the new CPS expansion(not really an expansion per say but more of reacquiring their own land they loaned out) will help this issue over time since the "back pathway" into the park will be cut off and there will be "no access" to CPS grounds from the Paquin Park side anymore as there is now.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro March 23, 2009 | 5:43 p.m.

I hope it helps.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr March 23, 2009 | 7:28 p.m.

Thanks ray shapiro we all hope it helps as well as Phil Steinhaus going to City Council with the proposal to make Paquin Park a "No Alcohol" or "Zero Tolerance Zone".

(Report Comment)
Jason Entermyer March 24, 2009 | 11:23 a.m.

Man, this forum is in need of a few new contributors, especially those with a sense of humor! Doom and gloom is all you hear here.

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley March 24, 2009 | 11:49 a.m.
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Matt Y March 24, 2009 | 12:11 p.m.
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Ricky Gurley March 24, 2009 | 12:26 p.m.
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Ray Shapiro March 24, 2009 | 2:16 p.m.

FYI: There's nothing funny about homeless people "camping out" in your garden when you're trying to grow vegetables out of your wheelchair. However, I'll throw you a bone...
Have you ever noticed how dogs like to mark their territory by urinating on what they want? I mean, all they have to do is lift their leg and spray their way to announce which spots are theirs. Heck, if we allowed the homeless to get away with that, they'd own EVERYTHING!

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley March 24, 2009 | 2:43 p.m.

That is funnny, Ray. I like it, Ray! I like it...


(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr March 24, 2009 | 4:26 p.m.

Rick you can find things funny if you want but all in all it is quite serious to alot of people in this city on the grabbing up of more lands that P&R does not need at this time nor has the resources or money to build with.

This city deserves a city government not hyper focused on land grabbing to build more parks when it's EMS and other infrastructure are failing as time goes on.

As many in this city have plainly pointed out "why not just develop what they have already or better yet ask for that money be moved to where it is actually needed".

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley March 24, 2009 | 5:36 p.m.
This comment has been removed.

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