Mile Square Regional Park to have 93 acres of land repurposed

Golfers play a round at Mile Square Regional Park's Classic course on Friday.
Golfers play a round at Mile Square Regional Park’s Classic course on Friday. The Orange County Board of Supervisors approved the repurposing of land at Mile Square on Tuesday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Mile Square Regional Park in Fountain Valley will soon lose one of its three golf courses, but is set to gain 93 acres of recreation space.

The Orange County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted unanimously to certify the final environmental impact report for the project, which would repurpose land in the middle of the 640-acre park.

According to the conceptual master plan, new features would include a botanical garden, a great meadow open area for concerts or events, an amphitheater, a nature camp and visitor center, several ponds and parking.

1st District Supervisor Andrew Do, who represents the area of Fountain Valley where Mile Square Regional Park is located, has been involved with the project’s planning since it started in 2018. Do said there is a lack of open space in his district, particularly in Westminster and Santa Ana, two cities that abut Mile Square Regional Park, and that the population density is high.

“There’s a lack of a safe, healthy living environment for people, but particularly young people,” Do said in an interview Friday. “When I became a supervisor, I looked at Mile Square Park as more than just a park. I see it as a resource for the 1st District. Of course, back then, we had the constraint of having leased out almost 300 acres for three 18-hole golf courses.”

One of two courses at Mile Square Golf Course, which is on the Warner Avenue side of the park, will be eliminated. David L. Baker Golf Course, which operates on the north side of the park bordering Edinger Avenue, will be unaffected.

“There will be multiple phases to this project, because of the enormity of it,” Do said. “From the different amenities you can see in the plan, it will take a lot of planning…but to have such a facility in such a densely populated area is invaluable to our residents.”

The Orange County Board of Supervisors approved the repurposing of land at Mile Square Park on Tuesday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Orange County Parks Department spokeswoman Marisa O’Neil said in an email that Phase I of six phases will begin this year, and is partially funded through a California Department of Parks and Recreation grant. OC Parks will apply for additional grants as they become available, and it is not anticipated that general fund dollars will need to be used.

At this early stage and with unknown timing for phases, the full development cost has yet to be projected, O’Neil said.

OC Parks held two community outreach events in 2019, a workshop and an open house. It also collected input through surveys at different events.

Not everyone in the community is happy with the changes, however.

Fountain Valley City Councilwoman Kim Constantine said she is “not thrilled” at the land uses in the conceptual master plan. She said she would like to have recreational uses such as more soccer fields, or a dog park, included in the 93-acre revamping.

“It’s not like I’m saying, ‘Let’s take the 93 acres and put some buildings, or take away the park area,’” Constantine said. “Absolutely not…I just think we can do better. I love the idea of a dog park. You’re still talking fresh air. Small and medium dogs in one area would be great, and larger dogs in another.”

Golfers play a round at Mile Square Park's Classic course on Friday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Things got contentious at the Board of Supervisors meeting as Supervisor Katrina Foley, whose 2nd District also includes part of Fountain Valley, attempted to initiate a presentation about the park’s conceptual master plan. She said she had been getting calls and emails from Fountain Valley City Council members and residents, seeking clarification on elements of the master plan.

But her efforts eventually were shut down by Do and 3rd District Supervisor Don Wagner. Do mentioned that illustrations on the plan were in an attachment to the agenda item, albeit starting on page 1,356 of a 1,394-page document.

“I don’t know why we need to go over every detail of the plan,” Do said to Foley. “Please be respectful of the meeting here.”

Foley said in a phone interview Friday that she didn’t know why her actions caused such a commotion.

“In my experience, when you have a master plan for a park, usually there’s a staff presentation so that the community has eyes on what’s being voted on,” she said. “Not everybody has a copy of the agenda and can look in a 1,400-page document to find the conceptual plan…I believe in transparency. I support the project, so I don’t know why that was a concern. It’s baffling.”

Do said that the purpose of the meeting was to vote on items, not to go into details and presentations on each item.

“We want to make our meetings accessible, and we want to be able to tee up projects and issues that we vote on,” he said. “But I think to go further and make it kind of a show-and-tell type of process, I think that’s improper use of board meetings.”

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