Sunset Beach Park could reopen by June as park board revises estimated closure time

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Sunset Beach Park could reopen by June as park board revises estimated closure time

Sunset Beach Park could be open sooner than the Vancouver Park Board initially estimated after the area was fenced off due to damage left in the wake of 4/20.

In a statement issued Monday afternoon, the park board said it will attempt to have the field open to the public in six weeks instead of 10.

The revised estimate follows a full inspection by park operations staff Monday morning, which found less damage than expected.

In preparation for the 4/20 event, organizers invested around $30,000 on plastic mats to protect the grass on site and avoid a repeat of last year's messy aftermath that resulted in a five week closure.

"It was really well protected, and the idea that they have to close it for twice as long this year as last year seems very strange to me," event organizer Dana Larsen told The Early Edition's Michelle Elliot.

Park Board chair Stuart McKinnon says the mats helped, but the park will still need to be closed to dry out and be reseeded.

"One of the problems is there's an awful lot of cigarette butts and glass and plastics here. We're afraid, when they aerate, those things are going to get punched down into the field and that's really not healthy for it," McKinnon said.

For the past three years, the unsanctioned marijuana protest party brought thousands to the site, and park board officials say they wish organizers would move 4/20 to a spot that's more suitable, such as the PNE.

Larsen said they talked with the PNE when scouting areas to move the event from the Vancouver Art Gallery, but they were rejected.

Four-twenty organizers paid about $7,000 to cover the cost of clean up last year and Larsen estimates they'll be paying much less this year because of the preventative steps they took to protect the field.

To hear the full interview with Larsen listen to media below:

With files from On The Coast