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HUNTINGTON BEACH | Community News Focus

Council to Consider Park Use Compromise

April 12, 1996|DEBRA CANO

Lauren Mikols and her friends in the Estates at Seacliff development would like a park nearby, with a grassy athletic field, a basketball court and a playground with swings.

"Now, kids play in the street," said Lauren, 14. "We really need a park because we don't have a place to play."

But neighbors in this northwest area of the city are pitted against each other over whether playgrounds and athletic fields and courts should be included in the county park proposed for the edge of the Bolsa Chica wetlands off Seapoint Street. Some residents--as well as local environmentalists--want the entire 106-acre site declared a nature preserve, with native plants and no asphalt or turf play areas.

In a compromise, the City Council on Monday will consider a conceptual plan to designate about six acres of the Harriett M. Wieder Regional Park as play areas, with tot lots and other amenities.

If the compromise is approved, the city staff will work with the county to develop the plan. The city has received petitions and numerous letters from children who want a neighborhood park, as well as letters from those opposed.

Barbara Marrs, who lives in nearby Seacliff on the Greens, said she and many of her neighbors, including some who live in the estates, oppose playgrounds and the like in the park, ultimately to be owned, operated and maintained by the county.

"It is a buffer to the wetlands," Marrs said. "Our fear is if you introduce active uses, wildlife will be driven away. This is a unique opportunity to preserve something that's not available anyplace else."

Jim Engle, Community Services Department deputy director, said that the city staff has been working toward a solution to satisfy a majority of the residents, and that the proposal to go before the council on Monday accomplishes that goal.

"We realize there's a need for a buffer between the wetlands and residential [properties], but we also feel an obligation that residents have a neighborhood park," Engle said.

The public hearing on the issue will be at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 2000 Main St.

Information: (714) 536-5227.

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