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IRVINE : Residents Protest Plan for Palace Park

January 15, 1994|SHELBY GRAD

About 150 residents confronted the City Council this week to protest a plan to build an amusement park at the corner of Michelson Drive and Harvard Avenue.

The residents fear that Palace Park will increase traffic and noise in their neighborhood and serve as a magnet for crime and gang violence.

Because the park site is zoned as an entertainment center, the seven-acre miniature golf course and arcade project does not require Planning Commission or City Council approval.

But some residents on Tuesday asked that the proposal go through the full planning process anyway.

"We don't think it's fair to take the control away," said resident Connie J. Slater. "We demand an environmental impact report on this project."

Concerns about the project have mounted ever since the San Francisco-based Camelot Park Family Entertainment Centers announced plans in December to build an arcade, restaurant, batting cages, a bumper-boat ride and three miniature golf course near a bowling alley next to the San Diego Freeway.

Residents said the park's castle-like design would be ugly and that night lighting from the facility would bother people who live in nearby condos and apartments.

They also questioned whether the park would be able to prevent troublesome teens from causing problems at the park.

Gerry Johnson, a partner with Camelot Park, said at Tuesday's meeting that the amusement center would be staffed with security personnel trained to prevent youth-related crimes.

He said the park would enforce a strict dress code and would not admit people wearing gang-related colors, bandannas or athletic jackets.

Park officials are working on a security plan with the Irvine Police Department that should be in place when the facility opens later this year.

Irvine Police Lt. Patrick Rodgers said Tuesday that he toured Camelot Park's facility in Cathedral City and found security impressive.

"In my professional opinion, this is a worthwhile project," Rodgers said.

Johnson added that the park's arcade would not include video games that contain graphic violence.

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