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New Regional Park to Make Its Debut on Saturday


For now, officials are concentrating on the park, where work began in 1988 after the county received a large chunk of land from the Mission Viejo Co., which donated the property for the park as part of development agreements with the county.

But several delays have postponed the park's unveiling.

At one point, for instance, the parkland was the proposed site for a much-publicized national fitness center. Headed by former Los Angeles Rams coach George Allen, the center would have trained athletic instructors and housed fitness researchers.

But Allen couldn't raise the money to open the center, and the county was forced to revise the general plan for the area, Matsuyama said.

A general development plan, with a price tag of $1.8 million, is also being amended to reflect the county's inability to secure a right of way to build a bike path from the park to Aliso Beach.

Landowner Violet Brown, who owns a restaurant and a golf course near Aliso Beach, refused to allow the bike path to cross her property, and county officials were forced to cut the bike path short and look for alternative routes.

Another delay occurred when the county had to negotiate with the Aliso Water Management Agency, which owns an asphalt road that runs from Alicia Parkway to the agency's plant in Aliso Canyon.

The water agency has staunchly refused to allow bicycles or hikers on its road, and the county had to grade a new bike path parallel to the road, Buchman said.

Although the park's general development plan is still not complete, county officials took the unusual step of opening it anyway, Buchman said.

Buchman said that he expects the park to be even more popular than Caspers because of its proximity to populated areas and its rural nature.

"We are really in the heart of South County," Buchman said. "But when you are out here, you can really get away from it all. Other than a few power lines, there is nothing out here but nature."

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