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Fairview Park panel OKs 3 ideas

The Fairview Park Citizens Advisory Committee's examination of the park's southeast quadrant continued Wednesday, with the group tabling a few proposals for athletic-style uses and denying a host of others.

The meeting in the Costa Mesa Neighborhood Community Center was the second session about the southeast quadrant, a roughly 45-acre space within the 208-acre park.

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The nine-member committee voted to postpone considering basketball and handball courts and a roller hockey surface — a vote that supplements another decision from August, when the committee postponed discussions on adding baseball/softball fields, soccer/football fields and multiuse athletic fields in the southeast quadrant.

After some discussion, the group OK'd three ideas: a native plant nursery, improving bike paths and constructing a concrete path from a signal light along Placentia Avenue toward Estancia High School.

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Committee member Lee Ramos said the nursery in particular was a strong idea.

"This has been one of the best ideas that I've seen come out of this committee and the public," he said.

Those three proposals will receive preliminary feasibility studies by city staff and be voted on a second time by the committee.

The bulk of Wednesday's meeting involved the group turning down ideas that included new trail exercise stations, a dog park, a wildlife viewing area, an interpretive center and bird-watching platforms.

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Chairman Richard Mehren noted that Fairview Park had a dog facility in the past that "was very unsuccessful."

Others, including committee member Frank Davern, said Fairview Park is already dog-friendly because many park users bring their dogs there.

"I already use it as a dog park," Davern said.

The panel also denied a proposal for preservation and delineation of the southeast quadrant's vernal pools, a type of temporary wetland that hosts the endangered San Diego fairy shrimp.

Portions of vernal pools elsewhere in the park were damaged last summer, which prompted an ongoing U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service investigation. The federal agency issued a report in July that called for more protection of the habitats.

It remains unclear which actions the city will take regarding the vernal pools, though city officials have said they plan to meet with federal officials to discuss Costa Mesa's options.

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Riverside visit

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On Oct. 12, a Sunday, the committee is scheduled to take a field trip to Riverside's Hunter Hobby Park, home of the Riverside Live Steamers, a ridable train setup similar to that of the Orange County Model Engineers in Fairview Park.

Hunter Hobby Park also contains basketball courts, baseball fields and a soccer field.

The field trip will be a chance for the committee to examine a facility where trains and athletic facilities coexist, as is being proposed in the southeast quadrant.

Committee member Anna Vrska called the trip a "cart-before-the-horse" scenario."

It would be premature to consider athletic fields for the southeast quadrant before the city is finished with any vernal pool protection measures the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will require there, she said.

"I feel it's a slap in the face to proceed with anything before we have that data," Vrska said.

Former council candidate Harold Weitzberg, who also disapproves of adding athletic fields in Fairview Park, had a different view. Go to Riverside, he told the committee.

"I want to encourage you to go to the park to see it's a bad idea [for Costa Mesa]," Weitzberg said.

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