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Connecting 1,000 acres

Huntington Beach officials are working with the cities of Costa Mesa and Newport Beach to come up with ways to connect city and county parks that surround the Santa Ana River through common trails and signage.

Once completed, the three cities’ parks and some county park land would extend for 1,000 acres in what will be called the Orange Coast River Park, said Tom Hatch, Costa Mesa assistant city manager.

The Friends of Harbors, Beaches and Parks, a nonprofit organization aimed at preserving and beautifying beaches, parks and open space in the county, has formed a river park subcommittee.

Parks in Costa Mesa that would be included in the river park are Fairview Park and Talbert Regional Park, which is a county park in Costa Mesa.


At least half of the space of the Banning Ranch property in Newport Beach would be included in the river park if the property is developed, said Sharon Wood, Newport Beach assistant city manager.

If the property is kept as an open space, it is likely that the whole 400 acres will be included in the river park, Wood said.

Sunset Ridge Park, which hasn’t been developed yet, could also become part of the river park, she said.

A few years ago, Costa Mesa and nine other cities participated in the Santa Ana River Habitat and Recreational Planning Project as part of a regional collaboration toward enhancing and revitalizing the Santa Ana River, which begins its journey at the San Bernardino National Forests running through Riverside and ending at the Pacific Ocean between Newport Beach and Huntington Beach.


Costa Mesa also accepted a $5,000 grant from the Wildlands Conservancy to launch its revitalization of its Fairview Park.

Recently, however, the three cities stepped away from implementing their own plans, and have just begun to find a way to work together on linking the parks.

“This coordinating effort will ensure that the public funds are spent efficiently,” Hatch said.

Liaisons from the three cities and members from the committee meet on a monthly basis with members from the subcommittee to create a plan and execute it.

“It would be a better solution to all of the issues and funding needs if the cities work together with the county,” said Jean Watt, chairwoman of the subcommittee spearheading the project.