I have been a resident of Orange County for 46 years. I am writing this letter in response to the Daily Pilot’s Jan. 18 article, “County gets golf course feedback.” I am encouraging the county to return the third golf course of Mile Square Park back to nature. That would leave two golf courses at Mile Square, and a nature park, open to the public.
Golf courses are not really “public.” They are highly restrictive and effectively close off space to the few who play golf and can afford it. They also close off habitat area for any native animal or plant species. California golf courses are also extremely thirsty, consuming on average, 90 million gallons of water per year, enough for over 600 homes, according to a CBS News report. Golf courses require constant mowing with gasoline mowers producing noise, CO2 and pollutants. A golf course is not a park where you can relax, walk and enjoy nature.
A nature park requires little water, no mowing and acts as a carbon sink. A nature park, with its indigenous plants and the resulting wildlife, provides habitat for disappearing plants and species.
Thirty years ago, I remember red foxes running through the middle of the old Mile Squre Park. Nature parks have also been shown to improve human health and quality of life for their surrounding community.
What a golden opportunity. Improving Mile Square Park will help bring a balance of nature back into our overcrowded community, lessen the usage of our precious water and make another small step forward in the fight against climate change. Please begin restoring Mile Square Park to its original natural state.
Koll Center will deliver on community ‘consensus’
Something unique and positive happened at the Koll Center Residences Planning Commission Workshop late last month: consensus was formed. The headlines following the meeting gave the impression that Newport was split on the project — some for, some against. In pure us-versus-them terms, that may have been true; public speakers were divided pretty evenly on the project, as presented (“Speakers at Newport meeting are split on plan for condo towers,” Feb. 1).
But this is an oversimplification and misses a bigger point: Almost to a person, the public called for a vibrant, urban mixed-use community with homes, shopping and public park space at Koll Center Newport.
That is consensus on an overall vision and provides my company great direction moving forward. It is also a strong affirmation of the original plan for the site — one that was approved by the voters and that we have always attempted to reflect in our project design.
Yes, there are details that still need to be refined. For example, some asked that we move forward with the project as proposed, while others asked that we lower building heights and add more retail. But essentially all speakers — from teachers, to adjacent building owners, to environmentalists and lifelong Newport citizens — asked that this become a vibrant community and not remain as an underutilized parking lot over by the airport.
We agree. That’s why I personally committed to the Planning Commission that we would find a project that meets this consensus vision. New community development can be a divisive issue. But consensus around a broad vision can eliminate the us-versus-them mentality and lead to great projects. After gaining feedback from the public and Planning Commission, I am confident we can design a great project at Koll Center Residences.
Chief executive officer, Shopoff Realty Investments