Land sale puts community park in limbo

The future of the South Laguna Community Garden Park is uncertain, as the land it is rooted in has been sold.

The previous owner, Paul Tran of Louisiana, sold the land at Eagle Rock Way and South Coast Highway for $1.2 million on Oct. 28, according to South Laguna Civic Assn. President Bill Rihn.

Rihn said with the land sold to a unknown buyer, the future of the garden, which opened in 2009, remains a mystery.

"What we really hope is that the new owner will let us stay there for a couple years," Rihn said.

Rihn has yet to speak with the new owners — who are from outside the United States — and could not comment on who they are.

Tran could not be reached for comment.

"We will eventually be in communication with the new owner and find out what their intentions are," Rihn said.

But the garden committee and the civic association are planning for "worst-case" scenarios and have started searching for a new plot.

Though the current garden has a murky future, Rihn said the civic association is "committed to having a community garden someplace in south Laguna."

The garden got its start after Tran bought the land in 2008. The 53-plot garden opened in 2009 after he agreed to allow the garden committee use of the land.

Rihn said it was always understood that the land would eventually be sold and the garden could not be guaranteed permanence.

When Tran put the land on the market last year, the garden committee began efforts to raise money to make a bid on the plot.

But despite the efforts, Rihn said they "never raised enough money to really make a serious offer."

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