Park Avenue mini park officially opens

Converting a couple of undevelopable city-owned lots to mini parks was Ken Franks' brainchild, but Laguna Beach landscape architect Bob Borthwick made it a reality.

Mayor Jane Egly and Mayor Pro Tem Verna Rollinger cut the ribbon Aug. 16 for the Park Avenue View Park, the second one designed by Borthwick on a less than lavish budget. It is different by design from the first park located off of Laguna Canyon Road.

"Ken came up with the idea for the parks about three years ago," Borthwick said. "His idea for Park Avenue was some mulch, a few plants and no irrigation."

However, Borthwick was able to wrangle some more money for the park designs that met his meticulous standards.

"Park Avenue has a different plant palettes and the design blends into the adjacent open space," Borthwick said.

The park is located just above Thurston Middle School on Park Avenue.

"A person could walk from the trail head to Alta Laguna Boulevard, the Richard Jahraus Reservoir or the Carolyn Wood View Knoll," he said.

Borthwick used mostly native plants with some succulents for the park's landscape, which was deliberately kept not too manicured. Plants include native Laguna Beach cactus (prickly pear) that the contractor cut from behind Riddle Field.

The plan called for no vegetation higher than six feet. Scrub oaks in Borthwick's original plan were scrapped at the neighbors' requests.

So was an ugly gate, replaced with a single chain hitched to posts painted brown to be less obtrusive.

Benches were designed without backs to preserve the views from the street of the canyon below, including the Canyon Acres Loop Trail.

The Laguna Canyon Park, informally named for the late artist Andy Wing, was dedicated in July, created from a patch of dirt that had been used for several years as a dumping ground and construction staging site.

"They were sister projects, with the same contractor and the same timeline," Borthwick said.

"I feel great about both parks. They each fit their neighborhood," he added.

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