Thursday, February 06, 2014

Fairview Park Committee Moves Forward Tentatively

Last night the Costa Mesa Fairview Park Citizens Advisory Committee met again and, under the guidance of Chairman Dr. Richard Mehren, took some cautious steps forward.  More on that later...

Following the unusual act of saying the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag when there was no flag present (flag etiquette says it's OK to do that), the Public Comments segment was launched by the introduction of young Boy Scout Christian Redman, who announced his Eagle Scout project - the rehabilitation of an acre of land within Fairview Park, which apparently will take place in one day - March 16, 2014.  He told the committee and approximately 30 members of the public in the audience at that time of his plans and is soliciting assistance and funds to rent equipment to perform the job in the time allotted.  As you can tell from all the badges, he's a very accomplished Scout.
Long time resident Chris Blank spoke to the committee and expressed his view - that he had apparently sent in a letter to Public Services Director Ernesto Munoz recently - that the committee was making decisions on issues for which they had insufficient current information.  He told us that the City Council, the previous night, had approved the creation of a Request For Proposal (RFP) for a consultant to perform an update on the Master Plan of Open Spaces, which has not been updated for a decade.  He postulated that this update should be accomplished BEFORE the committee attempts to complete its mission.

Harold Weitzberg concurred with committee member Brett Eckles that the city likely needs more sports fields, but feels that Fairview Park should NOT be the venue for any of them.  He suggested, quite seriously, that space for at least seven (7) soccer fields could be carved out of half of one of the two golf courses that form the links of the Costa Mesa Country Club.  He suggested reducing one of the 18-hole courses to a 9-hole Executive Course and use the remaining space for the fields.

Many of the rest of the 13 speakers agreed that the park should be left in its natural state, and that the committee had the cart before the horse - trying to make decisions without sufficient information. That certainly has been the case with current data on field use, which has been difficult to get and will likely be even more so with the abrupt departure of Recreation Manager Bob Knapp last week.

Munoz quashed a rumor that Fairview Park is for sale, then told the committee that documents showing deed restrictions for the park will be on the City website this week.  He expanded on the RFP for a consultant to do the update of the Master Plan of Open Spaces.

When they finally got down to the real business at 6:30 - voting on which "enhancements", if any, should be considered for the Northwest Quadrant.  Parks Project Manager Bart Mejia led the discussion of the data provided by Staff.  Based on previous discussions there were four items to be considered:
1 - Retain the elements of the Master Plan as it reads now.
2 - A Community Garden in a small sliver in the northern edge of the quadrant.
3 - Installation of Information Kiosks with Pamphlets
4 - Establishment of a Nature Center with Bird Watching Platforms.

The discussion and vote on the first item - Retaining the elements of the current Master Plan as-is -  should have foreclosed discussion on the remainder since it passed on a 6-1 vote - Ron Amburgey voted NO.  But, the committee decided to discuss and vote on the remaining three anyhow... very curious and a prodigious waste of time.
Seven members of the public chimed in on the suggestion that a Community Garden be placed in that tiny sliver at the northwest edge of this quadrant.  None thought it was a good idea for many practical reasons - location, difficulty accessing it, lack of nearby parking, etc.  Only Ron Amburgey voted for it - the other six members present voted NO.  Amburgey's argument for the inclusion of a Community Garden was because, "the Mexicans on the Westside don't have any land and they like to grow their own food."  This comes right out of the same song book that he brought to us when, during the discussion of a possible Archery venue, he said, "Where are the Indians when you need them?"

The idea of informational kiosks received a thorough vetting and the final vote was to recommend inclusion, but without pamphlets, which several speakers suggested would end up being trash in the park.  Only Vice Chair Steve Smith voted NO.

The final item - the establishment of a Nature Center with Bird Watching Platforms - failed to get enough support on a thin 4-3 vote.  Amburgey, Eckles and Lee Ramos supported the concept.

The next area to be considered is the Southwest Quadrant - location of the Harbor Soaring Society site, many vernal pools and the site of the now-infamous decomposed granite paths.  The business last night was to take the original list of 35 possible changes to the current Master Plan and eliminate several as inappropriate for this particular quadrant - in this case eleven (11) items suggested by the staff.  The remaining 24 will be evaluated by the staff, who will make a presentation on each at the next meeting, where the committee will discuss, take public comments and vote on each one.
I've included the list of the two dozen items that will be considered at the meeting on March 5th.  As you will see, some seem to be slam-dunks for inclusion, while others will certainly generate lively discussion.  If you wish to make your opinion known, please communicate directly to the Public Services Department at City Hall at 714-754-5335 or send letters or emails.  The addresses for Mejia, Munoz and City Engineer Fariba Fazeli are on the City web site.

The numbers shown below are the original numbers from the original list:
1 - Additional picnic structures SW and NW Quadrants.
3 - Baseball/Softball Facilities SE or SW Quadrant.
5 - Expand train routes NW or SW Quadrant.
6 - Improve information kiosk SW Quadrant.
7 - Vernal Pools preservation with cables, signage, and delineation.
9 - Soccer/football fields.
12 - Retain the elements of the Master Plan as it reads now.
13 - Install a two-tier building that includes an interpretive center and terrace/viewing deck.
16 - Westside grass area/sprinkler system improvements.
17 - Basketball/Handball courts.
19 - Eroding bluffs: install staircase SW Quadrant.
20 - Install information kiosks with pamphlets NW and SW Quadrants.
21 - Trail exercise stations.
23 - Roller hockey surface.
24 - Expand Orange County Model Engineers tracks across bridge.
25 - Improve/designate bike paths.
26 - Plant native/drought resistant plants Center of SW Quadrant.
29 - Dog Park.
30 - Expanded concert area.
31 - Skate Park.
32 - Build train track around SW Quadrant.
33 - Nature Center - Bird Watching Platforms.
34 - Archery area.
35 - Marked running courses.

As you can see, some of these will require very significant amounts of staff time - from a very diminished staff.  And, to further add to the futility of this exercise is the other shoe waiting to drop - the decision by U.S. Fish and Wildlife on what we will be able to do, if anything, in the aftermath of the decomposed granite path debacle.  On that subject, Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger - a City Council liaison to this committee - was absent from the meeting.  He was probably at home, boning up on what he will say to the agents from USFW when he speaks with them soon.

During their wrap-up comments the committee members offered the following:

David Stiller inquired of Munoz of the current status of the USFW investigation.  He was told that we are still awaiting a response to the city's letter.  USFW is waiting on a report from our biologist.

Brett Eckles expressed satisfaction that there was such a good turnout from the community, and that Weitzberg brought a potential solution to the lack of sports fields, and indicated that this committee was creating a vision.

Ron Amburgey opined that he thought we needed a Community Garden somewhere in the park - for the reason I indicated above.

Lee Ramos "echoed" Amburgey, then launched into what apparently was the Cliff Notes version of his stump speech for his run for City Council this year.  It had a kind of a Rodney King "Can't we all just get along" vibe.

Anna Vrska told us she was meeting with all the sports teams in the city, attending games, meeting coaches, and was about half-way through that process.

Steve Smith had nothing to say.

Chairman Richard Mehren got our attention when, after he said the committee is doing the best job it can, he concurred with several speakers who expressed the need for a "needs assessment" BEFORE going forward.  He said, "I don't know how we can continue with this process until we have a needs assessment.BINGO!  Without a needs assessment the exercise is just a wish list - which is precisely how the list of 35 items was conceived.

You know, this has a very familiar ring to it.  The Charter Committee was sent out to create a Charter without ANY study of whether we actually NEED one.  In fact, in one of his now-too-frequent "misspeaks", Mayor Jim Righeimer told the world that the Charter Committee would determine if we needed one - a statement he later recanted.

This committee, too, was unleashed without sufficient information or guidance.  They've moved forward with good intentions - and some strong pre-conceived opinions - without enough facts to guide their deliberations.  It will be very interesting to see where they go from here.

By the way, Old Barry Friedman was on the job with his Costa Mesa Brief cameras and microphones all set to record the event.  I imagine it will be posted on his YouTube site, HERE, within the next few days so you can watch the event yourselves.

So, another day, another meeting.  Tonight, Thursday, February 6th, the Costa Mesa Sanitary District will hold the third in their series of town hall meetings to introduce the public to their plan for handling so-called Organic Waste.  This one will be held at the Halecrest Community Center, 3107 Killybrooke Lane beginning at 5:30 p.m.  You can watch the video of the second town hall on the Costa Mesa Brief site.  See you tonight...

Labels: , , , , , , ,


Anonymous Arthur Nern said...

Mr. West,
You should take it easy on Amburgey. Many people don't know that he was recently found frozen but alive in a glacier in the Sierras.

When it melted, he was discovered and brought back to civilization. Investigation revealed that he was the lost member of Lewis and Clark's expedition, and still believes much of the U.S. is under the control of "Indians."

His reference to "Mexicans on the West Side" references his belief that Orange County is still part of Spain. He doesn't mean the western side of Costa Mesa, but the entire Spanish Territory.

Doctors believe some basic schooling can eventually bring Mr. Amburgey into the modern age.

2/06/2014 06:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Skeptical in Costa Mesa said...

Studies, Information? We don't need no stinking information to make sports fields out of a nature preserve! BTW: stevie not showing up after last weeks announcement, no brainer there.

2/06/2014 08:34:00 AM  
Blogger Beyond 25,550 Days said...

According to HUD Federal Guidelines adhered to by cities CDBG: Ethnicity categories include:
(W) White
(B) Black/African American
(A) Asian
(AW) Asian and White
(BW) Black/African American and White
(HM) Hispanic/Latino (Mexican/Chicano)
(HP) Hispanic/Latino (Puerto Rican)
(HC) Hispanic/Latino (Cuban)
(HO) Hispanic/Latino (Other)
((AI) American Indian or Alaska Native
(NH) Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander
(AIB) American Indian or Alaska Native and Black/African American
(AIW) American Indian or Alaska Native and White
(O) Other Multi-Racial (not any above)

2/06/2014 01:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Casual Viewer said...

The problem with putting a community garden in a nature preserve is that the food will be eaten by...nature. The rabbits, squirrels, gophers, coyotes, raccoons and whatnot will enjoy it. It would have to be completely fenced and have hardware cloth under the ground. Does Ron know that there are existing community gardens on the west side?

2/06/2014 03:53:00 PM  
Anonymous J. Sonnenmeier said...

no mention at all of aeromodeling in the plans. We've tried to be good stewards of the park and friends to the public for years. The few complaints that may be out there do not represent the actions of the majority of fliers. It would be sad if we're told to leave. There ARE other sports fields but there are not other flying sites - especially for the sailplanes.

2/06/2014 06:50:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

That list is of CHANGES that might be made to the park. The model airplanes is a current use and, thus, not on the list of changes the committee crafted last July.

2/06/2014 10:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

No updated material to review? Insufficient documentation? Isn't that exactly what Anna Vrska has been saying all along and Righeimer throws a hissy fit when she asks for it? took these guys all this time to figure this out?

2/09/2014 07:38:00 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home