below is a response email from Christine on the inquiry (name removed for their privacy). I will keep everyone posted if I learn anything else.
hope you;re all well and enjoying the spectacular weather.
Thanks for your email and sending out the request to the neighbors. I received an email last night from ______ (also copied here) indicating that ____ was responsible for the bench, and that it was intended as a thank you to a
It is wonderful to see a community that cares for and respects one another, and wants to show that appreciation through generous gifts like this! The issue here is not about doing something nice for a neighbor, but about doing something on public land without discussing it with the land manager. It is about recognizing that there is a process and policies in place to manage this park for everyone who uses it now and for future generations to come.
GGNRA has very clear guidelines for adding features and structures to the landscape as well as established policies on commemoration, which does not allow for items like this bench to be installed in the park at this time. Our policy is based on NPS Director’s Order 21, and GGNRA has a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for these requests that we are required to follow. This is one of the most frequent requests we get, but in order to be fair, we need to be consistent throughout the park. There needs to be some structure to help guide decision-making.
We received a call from a neighbor in El Granada a few weeks back inquiring about our policy on installing benches. Our Parks Conservancy staff member who handles these requests explained that this is not permitted at this time but we would add the neighbor to our mailing list so that as planning for the park progresses (including identification of potential locations for overlooks and benches), they could be involved in the community process. I have not heard anything from any other Rancho neighbor requesting to install a bench.
That being said, we certainly recognize and appreciate the passion that the neighbors have for the park, and would love to embrace that energy and put it to good use! We do think there are opportunities for visitor amenities to be installed in the future, and would like to get the community’s input on what those features should be and appropriate locations when the time comes. Due to cost of long-term upkeep and accessibility considerations, we generally have design standards that we follow for style and materials. We will work together on determining what will work best at Rancho.
This is a rare opportunity for us all to work together to create a new national park! I hope that we can come to a place of mutual understanding that this is a public place, and decisions on how to manage the park will need to be done
through a community process that we can all support.
I would like to discuss this new bench a little further with our San Mateo management team. We know that there are other structures (benches, bridges etc) that were installed in the past by neighbors, but that was prior to our management of the land, so it is something we “inherited” with the land transfer. As these structures need repair or replacement, they too will be assessed for their suitability before being replaced.
I have tried to distribute my contact information to as many neighbors as possible, so I hope at this point people know that they can come to me with any questions about the park. We have been straight-forward about our plans for the park and have invited community feedback and participation along the way. As you have seen, there are several staff members that
help manage this park and we are happy to discuss any of these issues as they arise. But please understand that any request to install or remove or change anything in the park should be discussed with park staff first so we can work through the process appropriately.
Please feel free to share this with your neighbors, and call or email me if you have any questions. I will be in touch once I have discussed the bench further with our management team.
Have a great weekend!