What Costa Mesa residents want: Walkable streets, recycling

Costa Mesa officials on Wednesday hosted their latest effort to include residents in the process of developing plans for the city's parks, open spaces, recreational needs and natural resources conservation.

By the end of the evening session, held in the Neighborhood Community Center, the most popular options were clear: Encourage walkable streets to improve air quality, implement recycling to reduce waste and do not add active-sports facilities.

For the past year, the city has held several community outreach sessions, dubbed the "Great Reach," in its effort to update the general plan, a state-mandated document that will act as a citywide blueprint through 2023 covering just about everything — including development, land use, housing and safety.

When it came to Costa Mesa's parks, ongoing debate about Fairview Park monopolized much of the discussion.

One topic that was hotly discussed last year resurfaced: the turnaround space proposed for the end of Pacific Avenue in the park's southwest quadrant. Some residents expressed frustration that the turnaround and proposed adjacent tot lot and walking trails were being pushed forward despite objections.

City staff noted that the elements have long been in the park's master plan, which was approved years ago after significant community input, but were delayed for years because of a lack of funding. They added that the turnaround will not include previously planned parking spaces — the council downgraded the project in favor of a turnaround only — but will be accessible to emergency vehicles.

The debate about whether to add fields to Fairview Park for sports like baseball, soccer and football continued.

Staff noted that City Hall is working on updating a comprehensive document that will address community needs for such fields. The document, officially known as the Open Space Plan of Parks and Recreation, may be completed by July 2015.

At one point, however, a city official said discussions needed to focus more on citywide conceptual ideas, not just Fairview Park.

Gary Armstrong, the city's economic and development services director, said there is potential for new city park space if the state government closes the Fairview Developmental Center on Harbor Boulevard across from Fair Drive.

The federal government may also close the Army Reserve base on Newport Boulevard, he noted. That piece of land could potentially be added to adjacent TeWinkle Park, he said.

The next general plan session is scheduled for Aug. 27, and the focus will be on safety and noise. The location is to be announced.

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