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NEWPORT BEACH : Council to Decide People's Park Fate

May 05, 1993|BOB ELSTON

The narrow stretch of bay-front property known as People's Park may be headed back to the auction block.

Several City Council members have voiced dissatisfaction because the vacant lot at 43rd Street and River Avenue in West Newport attracted a high bid of only $315,000 at a city auction last week, $35,000 less than hoped for.

But because the offer was all cash and would require no sales commissions, City Manager Kevin J. Murphy and Deputy City Manager Kenneth Delino have recommended council approval.

The fate of People's Park will be decided at Monday's council meeting.

"I was against selling it in the first place," Councilwoman Jean H. Watt said, reiterating her opposition. "But as long as we are going to sell it, we might as well try to get an optimum price for it."

The city has owned the parcel since 1940, when it seized the land from an owner who failed to pay taxes. Since the 1960s, next-door neighbor Jack Alward has planted trees on it and has urged the city to preserve the open space.

Today, the lot is mostly dirt and grass, and features two tall palm trees next to a concrete bulkhead that separates the property from the bay.

"In general, it is a city asset that has not been earning the city anything for a long time now," said Councilman John C. Cox, who is undecided on whether to accept the bid.

Last November, Newport Beach residents voted overwhelmingly to sell the property.

In addition to Watt, at least two other council members--John Hedges and Phil Sansone--support rejecting the $315,000 offer and starting over.

"The land will still be sold," said Sansone. "It is now a question of when, and at what price."

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