Commentary: Vision for city parks make them remarkable today

Re: "New parks are in the works for Newport Beach," (Jan. 10): We join our City Council and city administrators in praising existing facilities and outlining further park plans.

As Parks Director Laura Detweiler put it, "We hold ourselves to a much higher standard here in Newport Beach."

And that is true because our park dedication ordinance, enacted in 1977, calls for five acres of usable recreational space for each 1,000 residents. This means that each new development must dedicate park space or pay in-lieu fees to compensate for its contribution to the population numbers, which is a good thing.

The interesting part of all this is that in 1976 we discovered Dr. Gene Atherton quietly collecting signatures in Newport Beach to put a proposed park dedication ordinance on the ballot. We happily joined him in pursuing that quest, as did Mike Johnson, chairman of the city's Parks and Recreation Commission.

The initiative was successful, and the City Council enacted it rather than putting it to a vote. If that ordinance hadn't been enacted before the state's Quimby Act Amendment of 1982, we would only be able to hold development accountable for three acres per 1,000 residents.

We are grateful to Dr. Atherton for being the force behind the city's park dedication ordinance, and join Mrs. Detweiler in praising an active community and the City Council's support for ongoing outdoor development.

MARKO POPOVICH is president of the Stop Polluting Our Newport board of directors.

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