Ukiah Daily Journal - March 12, 2002

Park planned for site near depot


The much-abused Perkins Street Railroad Depot site will soon have a "pocket park" adjacent to it. Picture the area there: yes, the depot itself is historical, but vandalized, and its future use remains unknown. Presented to the City Council last week, were plans for the vacant land on the opposite side of Gibson Creek from the depot between Perkins Street and the "creek."


City Manager Candace Horsley said this was the "perfect site to do something" to help offset the "conditions on the rest of the property." Community Services Director Larry W. DeKnoblough described the pocket park concept as "a nice little green" with, possibly, a type of "Welcome to Ukiah" sign alongside Perkins.

Horsley, in recent weeks, has been involved in discussions with the North Coast Railroad Authority to secure the proposed park site. Perkins Street has experienced significant improvement in the past few years, with several vacant sites being developed and many older buildings being renovated. Throughout these various improvements, the depot site and surrounding railroad property has remained a community eyesore.

DeKnoblough explained that, as there appears to be no impending plans for development of the depot in the near future, the idea arose that the city could install street trees along the Perkins Street frontage and construct the small park. A conceptual landscape plan for the site has already been created. It includes several trees of various species, landscape pockets featuring a variety of colorful, low-maintenance plants (such as Lavender or Barberi), and a walk path along the creek.

The majority of the area is proposed to be covered with turf to provide "passive greenspace" and mounded to provide increased screening of the interior depot property. Tree species such as Hackberry, Chinese Pistache and London Plane (Sycamore) have been suggested as they are fast-growing and provide substantial shade with a mix of fall seasonal color. These trees have also been planted in numerous areas throughout town and are proven to be successful in this area.

DeKnoblough also proposed the inclusion of three benches along the creek as site furnishings. "Can the (Welcome to Ukiah) sign be big enough to cover over the beer distributorship?" asked Vice Mayor Phil Baldwin.  Baldwin added that he preferred the park without the "dubious aesthetics" of the "corrugated tin" that comprises the distributorship building. "We've got to get a concept of aesthetics!" he lamented.

There was mention of Gibson Creek being little more than a drainage ditch in that area. Bill Randolph of the Mendocino Fisheries Program (MFP) offered his help and that of the MFP's director, Joe Scriven. Randolph suggested putting rocks in Gibson Creek there to provide diversity.