Sounding Off: No. 2 — Creating recreational amenities

Editor's note: City Manager Ken Frank is retiring in December after 30 years with the city. In this column, he shares what he sees as the top 10 most significant accomplishments of the city administration during the past three decades.

In 1979, Heisler Park was the city's preeminent and largest public Park other than the sandy beaches. Boat Canyon Park, which includes the Little League baseball field, and Bluebird Canyon Park were the only other facilities of note. Most youth and adult sport teams were relegated to sharing overtaxed school district play areas. Since then, the city has embarked on an ambitious expansion of recreational facilities which primarily serve Laguna Beach residents instead of tourists. These new facilities include:

Moulton Meadows Park — Dedicated in 1987, this 10-acre facility at the top of Arch Beach Heights has a full-size soccer field, two lighted tennis courts, a tot lot, basketball courts, a restroom, walking paths and picnic tables.

Lang Park — Built in 1990 on part of the former Aliso Elementary School site at Wesley and Coast Highway, this park has a soccer-grass play field, a tot lot, a tennis court and restrooms. The city also has a small community center in a former school building.

Alta Laguna Park — Created in 1991 at the north end of Alta Laguna Boulevard, this park provides six tennis courts, a baseball/soccer field, a basketball court, a tot lot, restrooms, picnic areas and a walking path.

Expansion of El Morro School Playfield — The city and the school district cooperated to finance a significant expansion of the playfield at El Morro School. Soccer, baseball and softball teams now use this enhanced resource.

High School Swimming Pool — Replacing a much smaller, dilapidated plunge, the new competition size pool is shared from dawn to nighttime by school teams and the public.

Bark Park — Along Laguna Canyon Road, the city maintains a large, grassy field for dogs to romp off leash. The Bark Park was the first such facility in Orange County. It has since been copied by other communities.

Browns' Park, Crescent Bay Point Park, and Pacific Avenue Mini Park — These small Parks provide a respite from the hectic pace of daily life. Each offers expansive views of the coastline and ocean.

Treasure Island Park — While most visitors to this oceanfront, landscaped area are visitors to town, residents enjoy walking along the blufftop and picnicking at the tables overlooking the ocean.

Arch Beach Heights View Park — The city's newest park will open in November. Envisioned mainly as a resource for people in the immediate neighborhood, it contains a walking path through open space and benches with spectacular views.

Frontage Road Park and Park Avenue Park — These two additional pocket parks are scheduled for construction in 2011.

In addition to these traditional Parks which are irrigated and landscaped, the city has acquired 3,000 acres of open space which contain trails and viewpoints. Most of that acreage has been leased to Orange County to enlarge Laguna Coast Wilderness Park and Aliso and Wood Canyons Park, both of which have opened in the last 20 years, thereby transforming private ownership into a significant recreational opportunity for our residents.

Ken Frank is the city manager.

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