City to meet with feds on park

Costa Mesa City Attorney Tom Duarte plans to meet with federal officials to discuss the future of the athletic complex at TeWinkle Park.

The city recently received a letter from the Department of the Interior indicating the city may need federal approval to allow a private company to operate the park's fields.

The complex on Arlington Drive sits on land the federal government gave to Costa Mesa in 1949. Much of the area around the park was once part of the Santa Ana Army Air Base, which served as training grounds during World War II.

In October, the City Council selected Chino Hills-based developer Big League Dreams Sports Parks to remodel and operate the park.

The firm's pitch included selling concessions and alcohol, and, in a scaled-down fashion, modeling the fields after Major League baseball stadiums.

Resident Eleanor Egan brought up the 1949 deed to the city and argued that privatizing the land was against the law. Costa Mesa resident Jay Litvak sent a letter to the Department of the Interior, pointing out the potential conflict.

Federal officials responded in a letter sent to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) last month.

"If the city of Costa Mesa wishes to contract for the provision of services to the public for recreational purposes, we recommend the city contact our Federal Lands to Parks program office to be sure the terms of the deed will be met," wrote the department's Pacific West Region Director Christine Lehnertz.

Litvak notified the city about the letter at Tuesday's council meeting, triggering Duarte's meeting with federal officials.

After the meeting, Duarte will report back to city CEO Tom Hatch, said city spokesman Bill Lobdell.

Twitter: @JosephSerna

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