Fairview Park committee debates park additions

At one point Wednesday evening, Richard Mehren wondered aloud if any of the 34 ideas suggested for Fairview Park last summer were going to be discussed, much less happen.

As the chairman of the park's citizens advisory committee led the conversation for possible additions to the park's 95-acre southwest quadrant, he saw idea after idea receiving little feedback and consequently being scrapped.

"Thirty-four items, and we don't get anybody standing up for them," said Mehren, a retired dentist.

Twelve of those items were debated Wednesday, with two receiving preliminary approvals: improving bike paths and planting more native and drought-tolerant landscaping.

Among the 10 discarded ideas was a nature center with bird-watching platforms. The group was split in February on adding such platforms in the park's northwest quadrant.

Similar concerns were raised about the platforms again, particularly if they would be used as a hangout for illegal activity.

Committee member Terry Cummings questioned a need for them and if they would be effective for watching birds.

"A platform would be like fishing," he said. "You're always in the wrong spot."

Committee member Ron Amburgey pointed out what he saw as a contradiction: The park's nature activists seem "perfectly fine" with having the Harbor Soaring Society there — whose powered airplanes noisily whir about the sky — yet couldn't express enthusiasm for bird-watching platforms.

The group also rejected adding an archery field, skate and dog parks, and roller hockey surface.

Resident Cindy Black called the roller hockey suggestion "ridiculous ... that and the archery. I don't know whose bright idea that was."

A dog park in Fairview was suggested years ago, though ultimately rejected, Mehren said.

"If it's been taken out, leave it out," said resident Margaret Mooney, who called the idea "destruction of the park."

Amburgey, quipping that he was "speaking on behalf of all those dogs in the city," said he would favor adding a dog park, but elsewhere in Fairview Park.

The Bark Park on the other end of town, near the Orange County Fairgrounds, is very popular, he said, and the city's Westside could use one as well.

In March, for the southwest quadrant, the committee rejected plans for softball/baseball fields, basketball/handball courts and soccer fields. They approved ideas for adding picnic structures, improving information kiosks and better protection of the vernal pools.

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Letters pour in

The committee was flooded with nearly 50 letters from various people asking for more athletic fields in Costa Mesa — a change from most of the correspondence the committee receives asking that the 208-acre park be kept as passive open space.

The letters, sent between March 6 and April 2, primarily came from parents whose children participate in Back Bay Rugby at Parsons Field, a school district-owned facility next to Fairview Park.

They wrote that the city could use more athletic field space, but did not specify that the fields be added to Fairview Park.

"I support proposing more playing fields here in Costa Mesa," wrote Ilene Herman. "My daughter plays for Back Bay Rugby, and they currently share one field for their practices with sometimes up to four other teams per day/night, including rugby and Pop Warner football. It is becoming very crowded."

Mel Kong, however, wrote that Fairview Park should remain natural: "We don't need another playground or parking lot. We need green space. A place to listen to the wind and watch the clouds. A place to be one with the creator."

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