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February 10, 2010 > Letter to the editor: A salute to Fremont's 'crow park'

Letter to the editor: A salute to Fremont's 'crow park'

Fremont California is the only town I know of that has a park constructed specifically to give good habitat for crows. The Centerville crow park is an excellent example of how humans and nature can coexist in harmony.

At one time the middle of Fremont's Centerville district was a disorganized collection of small shops run by individuals who were often lucky to make ends meet. Today the random collection of tamale makers, auto parts stores and hobby shops have given way to the largest urban wild life sanctuary of its kind, The Centerville Crow Park.

Citizens can view the crows in habitat from Fremont Blvd. Seldom do urban dwellers have the opportunity to view such abundance of nature during their daily commute. The only evidence of humanity, on the otherwise extensive preserve, is two fast food restaurants and the old cemetery. These remnants of human society do little to disturb the majesty of the park. Crows love the burger and taco scraps from the fast food dumpsters and they find the tombstones handy for cracking walnuts.

The crow is often maligned and has suffered the undignified fate of having any grouping of its numbers referred to as a murder of crows. It would seem fitting that this creature of carrion has its only urban preserve located on the carcass of what was once a small business district. The district fell prey to poor planning and greed.

The original collection of small business owners was routed in favor of a massive redevelopment project. After the planners couldn't agree on whether a giant stainless steel sign should be read from Fremont Boulevard or from the train station the project simply died. When the dust settled, the landscape was littered with the carcasses of the development and the crows naturally made themselves at home.

Chain link fences have been put up around the entire area to keep the crows safe from intrusion by humans. Crow lovers are still waiting for funds to be found in order to mark the preserve with signs for sightseers.

All of this may sound a bit ridiculous; but, until recently, the crows have been the only creatures to benefit from the area. Lately it has been suggested that we locate community gardens on this 10-acre wasteland. Centerville isn't the only location where poor planning or business failure left areas that have gone to the birds. We also have a few areas that were never developed when suburban sprawl overtook the local agriculture. Putting these waste areas to work and preserving the few areas of open soil as community gardens seems a good idea at this point in history.

On the other hand, there is potential to develop recently abandoned auto dealers and auto manufacturing plants as crow preserves too. The defunct auto plant in south Fremont could be converted into the largest crow reserve in the world. With vision, the spray-painting facilities and assembly lines might be retooled into crow washers and automated crow feeders. We would have the cleanest carrion birds in the area and they would no longer need to feed from burger joint dumpsters.

Crows need your support in order that the Centerville Crow Park and all the other potential reserves for carrion in Fremont get permanent protection status. Or we could just develop community gardens that produce locally grown food and reduce oil consumption. The choice is ours. The winds of change are a blowing; seems to me wind could be good for more than giving the local crows flight.

To date, most of the sites the City has been willing to offer for community gardens are filled with the rubble of failed urban redevelopment. They will take a lot of labor to prepare as garden plots. People interested in helping to develop vacant lands around Fremont into community gardens can contact LEAF at Unless Crow Parks are your thing; then you need do absolutely nothing!

Bill Merrill

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