Two ride-alongs I did lately: With a park ranger and a code compliance officer. These are the last two we are asked to do in our Mesa Leadership class (the others were with police and fire).
I met Park Ranger K. Wallock at the Mesa Parks & Recreation office downtown on Wednesday, Jan. 27. We talked about what he does in the office for awhile and I also met another park ranger, B. Skutnik (there are five total). Then Ranger Wallock and I headed out in his truck.
What does a Mesa park ranger do?
- Assist visitors and deter negative activity
- Respond to citizen calls and concerns
- Patrol facilities daily during peak usage times
- Secure and close the City of Mesa Cemetery daily
- Patrol 60+ parks, 110+ retention basins and recreational facilities throughout Mesa
- Participate in neighborhood meetings
- Secure and close park gates and restrooms each night
- Monitor underdeveloped park sites
- Monitor and secure off-leash and on-leash dog areas
- Partner with Mesa Police to ensure appropriate park use
- Check park reservations and resolve conflicts
- Inspect playgrounds and report maintenance needs (from http://www.mesaaz.gov/things-to-do/parks-recreation-commercial-facilities/parks/park-rangers)
One thing this list doesn’t say is that the park rangers keep an eye on the homeless people sleeping in the parks. They really are very kind and make sure they are OK. They also keep a close eye on the ones who are potentially dangerous so to try to keep others in the parks safe.
So the first thing he said we were going to do was check on the homeless in the parks on the west side of town (he said most of the homeless hang out in Pioneer and Kleinman parks), but as we were going there he got a call about a duck in distress at Red Mt. Park.
On the way there we were the first to come upon an accident that had just happened, so Ranger Wallock pulled over to check on the people involved and called in for police.
After police arrived and Ranger Wallock had made sure everyone was OK, we took off for the park.
Here’s where it gets interesting.
Mesa Fire had already arrived (note: the original call from a frantic women about the duck caught up in a fishing line included calls to: Animal control, Mesa Parks and Rec, Fire and Police). Good thing nothing else was going on in Mesa this afternoon!
So, unfortunately, we missed the helpful firefighter who actually jumped into the water that surrounds a little inaccessible island where the duck was stranded. I did, however, get to see the video of it from the animal control officer, who said it was at her prompting and that she owed the firefighter some cookies! What happened (and you should know that this water is quite disgusting) is that there was not a boat or dingy available to reach the distressed, disabled duck so the firefighter (is there not anything they won’t do to save a life?) jumped in and with a little backstroke (as to not put his face in the water) headed toward the duck. The duck got so scared that this thing was coming quickly at it that it flapped its wings so hard that it freed itself and flew away…
That would be the happy ending of “the distressed duck who was saved” story but, meanwhile, above-mentioned animal control officer, while waiting for duck help, noticed some teenage boys running through the park and shooting at each other with (gasp) a gun!
She had detained the four boys and we showed up about the same time as Mesa police.
It was quickly determined by the police officer that the gun was a toy pellet gun and, after a thorough review of city code, said it was not illegal. However, the police officer then had to call each of the boy’s parents and tell them what happened and told the boys, basically, that it was a knot-headed idea to run through a public park with something that actually looks quite like a real gun.
The sun begins to set on what may, or may not be, a typical day for those sworn to keep us safe in the city of Mesa, and as the duck case was solved and the teenage boys promised to not be boys again, Ranger Wallock and I continued on…
Our next stop was at Desert Arroyo Park at the northeast corner of McKellips and Ellsworth. This is Mesa’s newest park that was opened in the fall. It’s a great, natural desert landscape park – go see it if you haven’t been there!
Desert Arroyo Park: http://mesaaz.gov/things-to-do/parks-recreation-commercial-facilities/parks/desert-arroyo-park
It is a perfect place to take a walk and snap some photos of the sunset. (Ranger was working, I was enjoying the view and I did take these sunset pics!)
He locked up the park (open only from sunrise to sunset) and then we headed to another park. Oh, and Ranger Wallock and I discovered that we both went to Mesa High and are close in age so we knew a lot of the same people and had great conversation throughout the evening!)
We also closed up Desert Trails Park on the northeast corner of McDowell and Recker. This is a cool bike park with a great hill and obstacles (again, not my photos – it was dark!)
Desert Trails Park: http://mesaaz.gov/things-to-do/parks-recreation-commercial-facilities/parks/desert-trails-park
Then we went to the Mesa Cemetery. He turned on his side spotlights and we drove around to make sure everyone was gone so he could lock it up. He said sometimes people try to sleep in there. Have these people never watched scary movies?!
I mentioned to Ranger Wallock that Zedo Ishikawa (only people who didn’t go to Mesa High would have to ask, “Who?”) But it was dark and I couldn’t remember exactly where it was in the dark (he had a flashlight and I had my phone).
Find a Grave: Zedo Ishikawa at http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=22992391
That took us to the end of my ride-along. It was great! I learned a lot about Mesa Parks (a few notable items: 1. They will not stop you for ice-blocking any more. 2. The Park of the Canals, 1710 N. Horne, is a hook-up site for gay men – don’t back into a parking space – that’s a sign you’re available).
Thank you, Ranger Wallock. I had no idea it would be so fun!
More info on park rangers and who to call if there’a problem: http://www.mesaaz.gov/things-to-do/parks-recreation-commercial-facilities/parks/park-rangers
My second ride-along was with Code Compliance Officer A. Smith on Wednesday, Feb. 24. Again, she was great to explain everything and we enjoyed our morning together. She feels she is doing a service to our community and likes making things better; however, not everyone is happy to see her because she shows up when there is a complaint made against them. And people can be pretty rude.
I told her from the start: “I really have no idea what you do other than maybe check out yards with weeds.” She laughed and off we went with a long list of places where neighbors had complained.
A complaint about a property within the city limits can be made by phone or online. Go here for more info: http://www.mesaaz.gov/residents/code-compliance
We did see a lot of weeds in yards (it is spring) and, yes, she will send a “courtesy letter” giving homeowners 14 days to clean it up. We also saw a structure attached to a main residence (it has to go); a shed built in an easement (it has to be moved); mattresses and other old furniture stored in plain sight of the street (take it to the dump!), travel trailers parked in front of house (they have to be in backyard), trash dumped in an alleyway (city workers will clear the debris), dead palm tree fronds (they can’t be over 8 feet) and washing machine water running into the street (use the clean-out).
Care to see a list of City Codes/Laws/Ordinances? Download the documents at: http://www.mesaaz.gov/city-hall/city-clerk/city-codes-laws-ordinances
FYI: Having a garage sale?
- Only 4 events per calendar year
- Sale event may last no more than 3 consecutive days
- No permit is required
- Signs are permitted as long as they DO NOT block the sidewalk or cause a traffic visibility issue. PLEASE collect signs immediately following the sale.