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Panel to Study ‘Deplorable’ State of Parks

Times Staff Writer

The San Diego Park and Recreation Board unanimously agreed Thursday to study ways to improve the “deplorable” maintenance of parks citywide. They will consider whether money set aside for acquisition of open space should be used for a cleanup campaign.

The action followed a slide show by the Harborview Community Council, an independent community action group, protesting the shabby conditions at parks in Logan Heights and Southeast San Diego.

Al Ducheny, president of the Harborview council, claimed that there was a “total lack of commitment on the part of the City of San Diego to provide decent recreational facilities for the mostly minority and lower-income residents of our community.”

Denise Ducheny said those conditions were “sadly reminiscent of conditions in the South” before the civil rights movement.

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Harborview asked the board to “investigate the great disparities which exist between city park facilities in other neighborhoods and those in Logan Heights and Southeast San Diego.” Board members agreed that their study should address that concern, but pointed out that shabby maintenance was a problem at parks throughout the city.

City Park and Recreation Director George Loveland said Harborview’s presentation was “very timely,” and “graphically demonstrated the maintenance problems” at Memorial, Grant Hill, Sherman Little and Chicano parks. “Those conditions are deplorable,” he said.

Commissioner Ann Hix told the Harborview group that shabby maintenance was “not only confined to your neighborhood and your parks.” Said the board should “look at the whole maintenance allocation system.” Loveland agreed the city was “providing a minimal level of maintenance citywide.”

Loveland added that maintenance problems probably would get worse under current spending plans. While most new parks are being developed with assessment fees gleaned from various developing areas, “the city is still going to have to pay to maintain them.”

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“We cannot in our own mind balance that situation readily,” Loveland said, noting that the $20 million the city has set aside for acquisition of open space likely could only be spent for that purpose and not transfered into a maintenance fund.

Commissioner Bernie Rhinerson then suggested the study determine whether other funds reserved for development of future parks could instead be spent on existing ones. Commissioner Dan Allen said the board should attempt to “sell the City Council on the idea of spending more money on our parks system.”

Juggling the Park and Recreation budget, particularly if it involves delaying development of new parks, Hix admitted, was a thorny “political problem. You just won’t be able to sell the people of the Mid-City area on the idea that they should wait longer for parks they consider to be long overdue so parks in other parts of the city can be cleaned up,” she said.


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