“If we do nothing, then they win,” said former Redding Mayor Rick Bosetti of the criminal element that has taken up residence at South City Park. “And there’s no reason for them to win.”
Rarely one to sugarcoat his feelings, Bosetti was even less inclined to be charitable after being assaulted by a transient over the Memorial Day weekend while readying Tiger Field for a Colt 45s game.
“The only thing they respect is strength. If you’re passive, they’ll continue to walk all over you,” said Bosetti, the general manager of the Colt 45s, who was unhurt but still riled up on Thursday when reached at the Colt 45s clubhouse.
Bosetti said the dustup began when he stopped to photograph a group of transients setting up an illegal camp in the park near the bocce ball courts. Bosetti, who performs maintenance at Tiger Field on a daily basis, said both Redding police and Good News Rescue Mission staff have asked him to document the more egregious violators.
“Then this gal went berserk and came after me, using every foul word imaginable,” he said. As he opened the door to his pickup truck, the woman grabbed him and pulled his hand away from the door. “I was able to spin around, get a hand on her and I shoved her out the door,” Bosetti said. While calling police from inside the cab of his truck, the woman used a rock to shatter the trunk’s windshield. Bosetti said she was wearing what appeared to be jail-issued clothing.
Redding police arrived and arrested her; when she was placed in a patrol car, she proceeded to kick the rear windows hard enough to knock them off their tracks. Adding insult to injury, the woman was released from custody and back at the park by game time, at which point she then angrily confronted Bosetti’s wife, Patty.
“The incident with Rick was very unfortunate,” said Redding Police Chief Roger Moore. “A lot of mentally ill people take refuge in parks, some of them can be violent and that’s unfortunate.”
On his Facebook page and on his “Free Fire” radio program (KCNR 1460-AM), Carl Bott publicized the assault—and the related issues at the park, such as litter, human waste, used hypodermic needles, drug use and thefts—and titled it “The Battle For South City Park.”
Asked Bott: “When will the City Council step up and make a stand? Frankly, when did we as Redding citizens say it is okay to shoot up, assault, steal, destroy and walk out of jail the same day to do it again?”
Thursday morning on his radio program, with Redding Mayor Kristen Schreder as his guest, Bott said “we’ve lost control of the park, would you agree?” Yes, Schreder said, “it’s not a place where anybody would feel comfortable.” The mayor was then quick to praise the work put in to rejuvenate historic Tiger Field. “Rick and Patty have done a great job. I totally feel safe at a Colt 45s game,” said Schreder, who attended Monday’s game.
A near-term solution, proposed by Bosetti and scheduled to be considered by the City Council at its Tuesday meeting, is to reconfigure the fencing to separate the “active play” areas from the “open picnic” areas. The active play areas include the tennis and bocce ball courts, both of which would available for use through the same reservation process used for Diestlehorst Bridge and the gazebo in Lake Redding Park.
Bosetti said he can secure some 8-foot-tall wrought iron fencing for the project. The fencing was once part of the Travis Federal Credit Union ballpark in Vacaville; Simpson University acquired the grandstands and fencing with the goal of building a ballpark on its Redding campus. Simpson’s ballpark plans are on indefinite hold and the Redhawks continue to play their home games at Tiger Field.
Moore said he supports the bolstered fencing plan but concedes “there will be unintended consequences. If we push people out of this area, they may go to a private business or down to the river.”
Redding police are not alone in the battle for South City Park, Moore said. “It’s not just us; we can’t arrest our way out of these problems. We need public health, mental health, social services, jail space … it is a city and countywide problem we’re up against.”
On Saturday, Redding police joined officers from the Anderson Police Department and the Shasta County Probation Department to conduct a criminal sweep that included South City Park. Officers on bikes and ATVs joined others in patrol cars and contacted more than 80 individuals. Some seven citations were issued and 13 arrests were made on warrants and various narcotics violations.
Moore said planning for the sweep began two to three weeks earlier and was not in direct response to the assault on Bosetti. “We can’t control what happens when we take somebody to jail; what we can control is illegal behavior. When we do sweeps, we provide (Health and Human Services Agency) information. But people have to want to get help. When they don’t seek help, we use law enforcement agencies.
“Our ultimate goal is getting them to obey Redding municipal codes and the laws of the land,” Moore said.
Meanwhile, the Colt 45s resume play Friday at 7:15 p.m. in a game against the Seattle Studs. Preston Sharp, the 12-year-old Redding resident who has received national acclaim for his determined efforts to honor every veteran’s gravesite with an American flag and a red carnation, will throw out the first pitch.
Fans that bring a 12×18 American flag and a red artificial carnation can trade them in for a general admission ticket to a future 2018 Colt 45s game. Representatives from Veterans K9 Connections will also be on hand. Veterans K9 Connections is a non-profit organization that provides service dogs and training to veterans diagnosed with PTSD, brain injuries and other disabilities.
For more info, visit www.reddingcolt45s.com