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City Lacks Money for Park Wish List

Projects would cost $110 million, but only about $38 million is available, officials say.


Anaheim has more possibilities for parks, library and other improvement projects than it can fund, suggests a recent report to the City Council.

The city's staff on Tuesday offered the council 13 major projects totaling about $110 million to consider. They include expanding La Palma Park, acquiring and developing Maag Ranch in Anaheim Hills, revitalizing city libraries, constructing a new clubhouse for the Anaheim Hills golf course and building two fire stations.

On Tuesday, the city manager's office suggested the council has only about $38 million in additional funding.

The staff proposals came in response to July budget discussions that revealed a desire among some council members to accelerate park development.

From 1995 to 2000, the council had approved $7.5 million for parks. In July the council approved $21.6 million worth of projects for the next five years, but members requested more money. The council's impatience stems in part from residents' complaints about the lack of fields for the 14,000 children who play field sports across the city.

The additional money would come from $11 million pledged from state funding excesses and a parks bond act passed in March. The rest, the city manager's office said, could come from loans known as certificates of participation. The city would pay back the money back with revenue generated from the expansion of the Anaheim Convention Center and the opening of Disney's new theme park, California Adventure, in early 2001.

Mayor Tom Daly has suggested that the city dig into its reserve funds of more than $200 million. But in its report, the city manager's office balked at spending from reserve funds, offering only $2 million.

At a Tuesday workshop, council members did not react to the projects and funding proposals. Rather, they asked for historical information on city spending for parks, and inquired into using money from the redevelopment agency.

Later, at the City Council meeting, they asked City Manager James D. Ruth to find out if the city can buy Maag Ranch from its current owners.

Also at Tuesday's council meeting, members of the community organization Solevar objected to Ross Park's current design plans. Their community needs a gym, said Solevar members, who pointed out that they had worked hard to help obtain funding and a site for the park.

Community Services Director Chris Jarvi said that Ross Park is a mile away from the city's only gym. Given that west and east Anaheim also want gyms, putting one at Ross Park is not feasible. It would also preclude building other facilities, Jarvi said.

The council is expected to continue its parks discussions at its Sept. 26 meeting.


Judy Silber can be reached at (714) 966-5988.

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