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Camp Meeker Beat - April 2015


Camp Meeker Beat - April 2015

by Tom Austin

April? Already? So I guess you just finished marching in the Fool’s Day parade down in Occidental. If it’s one thing we’re good at in the West County, it’s Foolishness. Not all that great of a rainy season, so it’s another summer of water stinginess. You take the bad with the good, I guess. The days are longer, right?  Look on the bright side. That means more hiking, trips to the beach, cookouts…summer is just around the corner!

I guess longer days also means a longer honey-do list, for the tool wielders among us. I rebuilt my front porch last year and will no doubt have other fixit projects this year. Meanwhile, the Park and Rec Board continues with its list of projects. Unfortunately, projects are circumscribed by budget, by available funds, and those have been lower since the…what are we calling it? The Great Recession? The Crash of 2008? Friends, it’s The New Normal. Buckle your seat belts, we need to make do with less. Along those lines, everyone wants to do another Chipper Day, but…we’re a little short of funds. Any large future projects will need some grant money. One such project is still in the (very early) planning stages: the Board is researching the possibility of applying for a grant from Cal Fire for some pest control cleanup services. There are no doubt many hurdles before that one would come to pass. 

There are some revenue-neutral ideas being bruited about as well: the trading of land parcels between St. Dorothy’s and Camp Meeker. In short, St. Dorothy’s owns much of the land above Camp Meeker, but there are small bits of land here and there deeded to Camp Meeker as a community. There are some legal issues working their tedious way through the courts regarding the various transfers of land ownership (from Chenoweth/Aho to St. Dorothy’s, for example) and further land swaps are being contemplated by both St. Dorothy’s and the Park and Rec Board. Once such trade being considered by the Board is the trade of a parcel on top of Tower Road for one roughly bounded by Tower Road, Sequoia Avenue, and Redwood Avenue – where Baumert Creek runs down to Dutch Bill. 

What makes this proposed swap more significant is that the parcel on top of Tower Road contains what was once the marvel of the area: the Living Tower, a natural rectangular arrangement of tall, straight trees that once supported a staircase and platforms, which allowed Camp Meeker residents to hike and climb and take in a pretty satisfying view. It’s more or less in ruins now, of course; but it is an important part of Camp Meeker history. The proposed trade would give that land over to St. Dorothy’s in return for the other parcel, the once that wraps around Baumert Creek as it drops from Sequoia Avenue to Dutch Bill Creek.   This land also has historic value (there was once a “New England Home” built there, believe it or not).

I’m not here to argue for the superiority of one parcel over another. One is a nice apple, one is a nice orange. The one up high has the Living Tower, and it is the only piece of the hills above us currently owned and legally hikable by us. The other one is centrally located in the middle of Camp Meeker and is not really buildable or hikable, but there are some nice shady picnic spots in there. Both pieces of land have the potential to be little jewels, if we had the money to restore them all or in part. Which we currently don’t, as mentioned above. So this potential trade is more about trading potential, as it were. 

Maybe you have a strong opinion or preference for one parcel or another. If you do, then take note: the matter will be discussed and potentially decided at the April Board meeting. The exact date of this April meeting is not published yet, but it will be on a Tuesday night, probably April 14th or 21st. Keep an eye on the web page at for this and other important information.     It’s your community; come down and make your voice heard!