By BRIAN BULLOCK
Pilot Staff Writer
Chetco Point Park.
"It's within city limits, but its a wonderful place of solitude," said Pat Sherman, a Brookings Parks and Recreation Commissioner who has developed a special relationship with the park.
Sherman is the commission's liaison to the park and her specialty is wildflowers and native plants. She has built a successful flower seed business here in Brookings and she finds Chetco Point Park a fascinating place even when the flowers aren't blooming.
"You get out there in the storms and you can watch the waves come crashing in. If you get out there in mid-March you can go out there every week and find different wildflowers in bloom," she explained.
Thimbleberry, Wolf's evening primrose, yarrow, California lilac, morning glory, Oregon grape and a catalog full of other wildflowers are beginning to decorate the park with spring color. The park has become a focal point of the Brookings Parks Department.
A new parking lot, fencing, access trail and walkway to the beach are just a few of the recent improvements.
"A rock path has been established almost all the way down to the beach now," explained Dave Lentz of the Parks and Recreation Department. "We're building a lawn area on the Mill Beach side of the new access."
Parks and Recreation and the Public Works departments have worked hand-in-glove on construction of a new fenced parking lot and trail leading to the park's grassy field. A new picnic area just inside the second gate will soon be added.
The city has applied for a Coastal Resources Management Improvement Grant that, if realized, will allow paved trails, scenic viewing areas and improved beach access, according to Ed Wait, director of economic and urban development.
"We've slowly been improving it over the past year, but we could do a lot more," Wait said. "If we're successful with this grant we'll be able to do a lot more improvements and enhancements so people can enjoy it even more."
The park, at the end of Wharf Street, is hidden by the city's wastewater treatment plant.
For years, if people weren't told of it by knowledgeable locals, they never knew it existed. That was both a blessing and a curse for users of the park.
With the concentrated effort of creating better access and better visibility, the spectacular Pacific overlook will certainly become more popular and more populated.
"There's a lot more traffic out there since we moved (the entrance) over," Lentz said. "There's a better parking lot, a better pathway and I think it's drawing more people out there.
"There used to be just a few people down there fishing and climbing on the rocks. Now it seems like there's a lot more people going down there."
Lentz said in addition to storm watching, wildflower finding, fishing and tide pooling, the park is an outstanding place from which to view the Independence Day fireworks.
The new pathways, trails and viewing points could make the park accessible to even more people. Universal access, making it wheelchair friendly, is a stipulation of the Department of Land Conservation and Development Grant the city is seeking for park improvements.
"The people you see out there don't go there because there is activity going on. They go there because there isn't activity going on," Sherman said. "It's kind of a nature park.
"It's really a special place. This park's more like our own little national park."