Thursday, March 4, 2010

Seven Oaks Park: A Review (Or, Dear Sureños)

Posted By on Thu, Mar 4, 2010 at 6:12 AM

In short:

Location: Just off McGavock, out by the airport

click to enlarge A local dog sniffs one of the many smells at Seven Oaks Park (the start of the Frisbee golf course is back to the right).
  • A local dog sniffs one of the many smells at Seven Oaks Park (the start of the Frisbee golf course is back to the right).

Crowds: Middling

Approximate Age of Patrons: Three kids and a bunch of twenty/thirty-somethings playing Frisbee golf

Topics of Conversation: "Does this park have the coolest trees ever?"

Stray Dogs Seen: None

Types of Vehicles in Parking Lots: Predominately trucks and SUVs

Perceived Safety: Middling

Number of Gunshots Heard: None

Dog Friendliness: Middling

Number of pitbulls sighted: Just mine

Accessibility: Middling

Incorporation of Local History: Poor, disappointingly poor

Recommended Patrons: Frisbee golfers, athletes, Sureños with some cans of paint and brushes.

click to enlarge Just one of the many awesome trees.
  • Just one of the many awesome trees.

When we got to the park, we drove around and checked out the layout. In the back parking lot was an old sedan stuffed with someone's earthly possessions. The owner was in the car, eyes shut. Times are hard out here, people. And people are really suffering, even in our parks.

That doesn't reflect in any way on the quality of the park, but I just felt like I couldn't see a person obviously living in his car and not note it.

Anyway, the park is situated at the top of a small hill and it is crammed full of stuff to do -- baseball fields, tennis courts, a Frisbee golf course that was packed with people, a basketball court that was looking a little tired, and a playground with some nice new equipment, some tired-looking swings, and one of those old rocking doodads (a creature on a spring you can sit on and ride). That thing looked about as old as me!

click to enlarge Some kids play on the playground equipment.
  • Some kids play on the playground equipment.

Everything (with the exception of the basketball backboards, which needed hoops), looked to be in good shape, except that much of it needed a coat of paint.

The park is full of really funky, cool trees with interesting shapes. There are non-mobile bathrooms that are probably open during baseball season and a portapotty down by the start of the Frisbee golf course.

There's no incorporation of local history, so I don't know why it's called "Seven Oaks." My companion noted that there were many more than seven oaks and there didn't appear to be a clump of seven particular oaks. But the name is intriguing, and I'd love to know why the park has it. Was that an old farm in the area? The old name of the subdivision? Who knows?

The park felt mostly safe. The neighborhood is really cute (though very, very near the airport), full of old '50s brick homes and some newer, crappier duplexes. Nobody in the park seemed sketchy, but it also seemed like there were a lot of places where you could be unseen if you fell, and somewhat hard to find.

click to enlarge In a just world, Flako would be painting this building back to its original state tomorrow.
  • In a just world, Flako would be painting this building back to its original state tomorrow.

There was also a very noticeable amount of gang graffiti, some on the playground equipment and a bunch on the far ball field. (Twitty City Baseball? There's got to be a story there.) It's all obviously Sureños (or wannabes emulating them). I'm no gang expert, but I didn't see any evidence of any other gangs marking over it in any way that would indicate that this is disputed territory.

Which brings us to the part of this post where I address the Sureños directly.

Dear sirs: I am not in a gang, but it seems to me that the goal of placing graffiti on places is to say, "We are here. This is ours." I also know that reputation is very important for y'all. So it is with this understanding that I must ask: how does claiming a children's game of tic-tac-toe make you look bad-ass?

Does ruining things for children really improve your reputation? Are your enemies quaking in their shoes to know at least some of you hang out at the playground?

I can't say for sure, but I kind of doubt it. I know I saw it and snickered. Really, it does nothing for you to be seen as kings of the jungle gym. At least the graffiti on the building was big and impressive, but who could see it? The three men trying to earn a living getting the ball fields back into shape?

Literally no one is going to see that stuff unless they come to an out-of-the-way side of the park. It seems like a lot of effort for no payoff. I don't want to disparage Flako but he seems to be slacking a little bit, only tagging children's toys and places few are going to see before they get repainted.

Perhaps sending Flako back to the park to clean up his mess would be a way of instilling a good win-win for everyone. The community gets a graffiti-less park, and Flako learns the importance of picking better targets.

Anyway, other than that, the park is lovely and the views are really cool. I bet it's really amazing in the fall, when all the leaves are turning.

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