The distinctive, flat-topped Fireworks Hill in the center of Thousand Oaks will soon become city property, and the plateau will be preserved for the annual Fourth of July celebration.
The City Council voted Tuesday night to buy the 27-acre parcel behind the former civic center on Hillcrest Drive for a total of $545,000, including escrow closing costs.
The top of the hill--which was graded three decades ago into a flat pad--will be maintained as open space or converted into a park, council members said. But parts of the slope could be sold to developers or attached to the civic center property, which is now on the market.
“We’ve gotten an exceptional price on this,” Councilman Alex Fiore said. “We can keep the hill so we will be able to shoot fireworks off it in perpetuity. And we might make the bottom of (the civic center parcel) a lot more marketable.”
Mayor Elois Zeanah and Councilwoman Jaime Zukowski voted against the acquisition after questioning the validity of the appraisal. In the past, they have suggested that the city could preserve the hilltop far more cheaply, by simply changing the zoning from commercial to protected ridgeline.
But Councilmen Frank Schillo and Fiore denounced that suggestion, arguing that a zone change would unfairly strip the owner, Robert A. Franklyn Trust, of the right to develop.
“Either you take peoples’ property or you buy it, and I think buying it is the honorable way to go,” Schillo said.