Dismay over removal of Point Reyes picnic tables


Last Friday offered a typical scene at the town commons in Point Reyes Station: at the Little Yellow House, teenagers were flipping pancakes to benefit the Tomales Bay Youth Center, neighbors greeted each other as they strolled down the path and bicycles were propped against any available wall. It was business as usual for the commons, minus one factor. “When are the tables coming back?” Larry Nigro, a Fairfax resident, Lagunitas School teacher and avid bicyclist, asked Madeline Hope as she tended to the youth center fundraiser. Ms. Hope, a member of the working group representing the West Marin Commons, which leases the space, told Mr. Nigro that the group decided to remove the five picnic tables for the summer while they devise a management plan for the property. “That’s kind of putting the cart ahead of the horse,” Mr. Nigro replied. “This creates an anti-cycling thing and a whole type of energy that’s not cool.” Similar sentiments have been echoed by locals who feel the tables’ removal was not in the spirit of hospitality, or even community. “It’s yet another political football,” Bonnie Clarke, a Point Reyes Station resident, said. “That’s my concern: both visitors and locals have appreciated it so much that it mystifies me that there would be this thought of removing the tables. Truly, I’m kind of flabbergasted.” Mark Switzer, board chair of the West Marin Commons, said he’s been compiling comments since announcing earlier this month that the tables would be removed as part of an “experiment.” He also said the youth center, under Ms. Hope’s guidance, is using a protocol devised by the California Coastal Commission to analyze each item of waste left at the commons to create a “trash inventory.” The management plan, which should be completed later this summer, will address waste management and will flesh out criteria for hosting events at the property (whose lease is being negotiated). “This is an honest effort to see how we can manage the space,” Mr. Switzer said. “We’re trying to find the sweet spot of what is manageable and hospitable. And also be sensitive to what local residents need.”