I would like to clarify two points made by Mr. Hills in an article (“Collision Over Preservation and Property Rights,” June 19).
Regarding “investing tax dollars” in allocating funds toward the purchase of a permanent site for the South Laguna Community Garden Park: Rather than “tax dollars” the funds came to city coffers as a result of a 1927 gift of parkland to the county by the developer of Coast Royal, and then a gift of that same land to the city by the county. This enabled the city to sell the unused park land and deposit the $250,000+ proceeds into the park in-lieu fund. Those were the funds the Council allocated for purchase of a permanent garden park site. Possible sites for a garden park are a short distance from that originally dedicated parcel, and the garden park use would fulfill the original intent of the park dedication.
The funds are not expended. The council decision merely allocated the $250,00 to be used when a permanent site has been found and the added funds needed to complete a purchase are raised. No check would be written by the city until those conditions are met.
Regarding “Subsidizing limited use properties instead of general use parks”: I would contend that the garden park is every bit as much a multipurpose park, if not more, than many of the parks in Laguna.
Not only is it used by families to raise organic vegetables—some times two or more families per plot–there are community areas set aside for other gardeners, as well as the Children’s Garden for parents and kids programs, and another for produce for the Friendship Shelter. The garden park is open to the public with the maintenance provided by garden volunteers. All are invited to regular potlucks and workshops. Educational tours for youth are provided and the park serves as a venue for classes. Finally, the garden park is enjoyed by many neighbors and tourists who enjoy walking around or eating at one of the tables and benches throughout the park.
This, to me, defines a “multi-purpose park” certainly as much as tennis or basketball courts, which I equally support.
I would like to thank the City Council for their generous contribution and support, without which we would find it much more difficult to raise the additional needed funds. They have watched the garden park evolve and personally visited it. By their recent decision, they believe this is an important and valuable addition that helps to promote community togetherness.
Myron Wacholder, Laguna Beach