I don't know how your weekend began, but mine started this morning when my wife and I joined several hundred folks at the community celebration of the brand, spanking new Newport Beach Civic Center and Park. And a glorious event it was... The crowd, full of dignitaries and just plain, old proud folks, was enthusiastic and enjoyed the steady breeze that pushed flags to full salute.
The 1st Battalion, 1st Marines provided the color guard
Music was provided by two dozen members of the 3d Marine Aircraft Wing Band.
Mayor Keith Curry
was the master of ceremonies, setting just the right tone for the day.
Councilman Ed Selich
provided an overview of the history of the City Hall creation.
More than a dozen vendors provided what Curry described as a "mini-Tatste of Newport".
There's plenty of onsite parking - 450 parking spaces in a multi-story parking structure adjacent to the buildings. The Main Library is now a contiguous part of the Civic Center and shares the parking facilities.
The facility is magnificent, with glass, glass and more glass. Few employees in the building are without an unobstructed view of the outside.
Perhaps the best example is the office of City Manager, Dave Kiff
. Not only is it in the perfect location with a lovely blue water view, but has a little deck nearby if he wants to soak up some sun during the day. Even though there are several of those decks around the perimeter of the building, I suspect Kiff is going to get some flack.
My wife and I arrived early and toured the grounds. We hiked meandering paths through new landscaping and across several bridges over the native habitat up to the dog park on the other side of San Miguel Avenue - she climbed the stairs and I rode the elevator up to the bridge over the street. I mean, how many times do you get to take an elevator ride to a dog park?
And a fantastic dog park it is, with two large areas of artificial grass - one at either end - and a huge dirt section between. There are sufficient shaded benches for the dog owners so they can just sit and relax as their pooches frolic and socialize. In fact, we saw the first canine visitor to the facility - this beautiful Rhodesian Ridgeback - who seemed a little confused since there were no scents deposited on the site yet.
As we wandered the site we came across wildlife. Well, maybe not "wild life" in the purest sense. We discovered a big, white bunny statue, all alone, overlooking the Civic Center site. Then, closer to the elevator, we found fourteen smaller white bunny statues arranged in a circle. I have no idea of the significance of these statues, but they certainly were conversation pieces.
Although the City Council chambers was not open, we had a chance to see it through the sliding glass doors at the rear of the room. This venue is cozy - it only seats about 150 people - but those doors can be opened and temporary seats made available for the overflow. Or, the patio space could be used for standing room, which will be handy if and when angry folks show up with pitch forks and torches.
Speaking of angry folks, a negative exclamation point to the festivities was provided by two airplanes that orbited the site for a few minutes dragging behind them the following banners. Even though they were in full view of the crowd and dignitaries - I did see some scowls from council members - they didn't seem to detract from the very festive nature of the day.
This really is quite the magnificent facility. Once the landscaping grows a little it will be a spectacular place to just go and meander. Every Newport Beach resident should be proud of this facility - even though it may cost as much as $230 million once the bonds are paid off.
And, quite honestly, I feel just a little bit of pride of ownership for this place. Many years ago, when Newport Beach seemed determined to demolish the old site on the Balboa Peninsula and rebuild a new facility there, I wrote a little commentary in the Daily Pilot that asked why they would intentionally build at a site you almost cannot reach during the summer months when they had this fantastic, 12 acre site in the geographical dead center of the city, close to public transportation and adjacent to their largest retail center - Fashion Island. I mean, that venue is called "Newport Center", after all. I suggested that space adjacent to the Main Library could be carved out of that 12 acres for a new City Hall and still have plenty of room for the open space for which it was intended. Apparently somebody was listening.
So, to my good friends in Newport Beach, congratulations on your magnificent new Civic Center and Park. Events are already being scheduled for the meeting rooms and the lawn area. It should make you all very proud. You're welcome...
Labels: Dave Kiff, Ed Selich, Keith Curry, Newport Beach City Hall