COSTA MESA — Councilwoman Wendy Leece remembered when she was on the city's Parks and Recreation Commission and the Fairview Park Wetlands & Riparian Habitat Project first crossed her desk.
Costa Mesa City Engineer Ernesto Munoz and Public Services Director Peter Naghavi remembered what Fairview Park used to look like before the project.
"There was nothing here," they said.
How far Fairview Park has come.
Standing at the end of a dirt trail Thursday afternoon with the occasional jogger and bicyclist passing by, city and county officials celebrated the beginning of Phase 2 of the wetlands project, slated to begin in August.
"This is big step for our county, for our city," said Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer. "We're raising the bar in the city, and this is a part of raising that bar."
Thanks to about $2.5 million in state, county, city and private money, Costa Mesa workers will build four ponds on the northwest side of the park, add bike trails and streams, add 23 acres of native habitat planting and install an irrigation system.
There will be five ponds total and this phase should take about a year to complete, Naghavi said.
Phase 1 of the project added 17 acres of bird habitats, and did grading and some pond and irrigation construction.
To this point, Costa Mesa has funded the project entirely through grants. City officials are counting on similar funding for the final phase where the remaining details of the project will be added, such as additional trails and plant life.
County officials view the Fairview Park restoration as part of a wider project called the Orange Coast River Park. A planned 1,000-acre amalgamation of city parks, it would stretch from the coast up the Santa Ana River and would rival San Francisco's Golden Gate Park in size.