Village Matters

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Yours Forever

By Ann Christoph
By Ann Christoph

Rolling hills and beauty in many shades of green. Woods, fields and little hamlets with landmark church steeples…my brothers and I made a pilgrimage to our childhood hometown in rural Wisconsin. We had been invited to the 60-year celebration and dedication of a new hospital wing because our grandparents had donated the land where the hospital stands. Hospital officials opened the time capsule from 1955. Inside the soldered copper box were handfuls of envelopes. They contained lists of members of groups, parishes and other organizations who had supported and donated to the construction of this first hospital.

“Whatever you spend is gone, whatever you save goes to someone else, whatever you give is yours forever, ” one of the speakers said.

And it was true. All the donors had created something of lasting value. People’s lives had been saved, they had children and their children had children. Generations of families now live that would not have lived at all but for those gifts.

That little part of my grandparents’ farm will have meaning forever. The rest–where subsequent owners sold off land for a strip mall, buffet restaurant and even a Walmart—gives only an uncomfortable message. “This could have been something better, something thoughtfully considered, something that gives rather than takes away.”

The magic of Laguna Beach is its underlying message—this is a place that has been formed by people who care. People who appreciate what this environment gives us. People who have been generous in their devotion to the community, both with their donations and in their well-considered work.

Now we are engaged in projects of immense importance. We will be making decisions soon that will affect Laguna Beach far into the future.

The plan for downtown is in progress. Consultants have made preliminary suggestions– adding apartments, building parking garages at Cliff Drive and near the art museum, relocating the library, improving bike and pedestrian pathways, planning new buildings where the gas stations are now.

Changes to Laguna Canyon Road have been studied for months and a task force will be reporting back to the council in September. Undergrounding utilities, bike and pedestrian pathways; these are well supported. Other possible changes like widening the road and adding travel lanes could have serious impacts.

Village entrance planning goes on, with workshops taking place in September. City staff schedules completion of plans by early 2016. Will there be a green, attractive entrance complementing the recent improvements to the Festival grounds?

A cultural arts plan is just getting started. How can we improve our city as it relates to artistic endeavors?

Is there a way to address our housing issues so that young people and other Lagunans with ordinary incomes can continue to live here?

Now is the time to be generous of time, of thoughtfulness. Having a long-range outlook for what is best. We can abandon an orientation toward short-term dollar making and an over-concern for dollar saving. We can foster generosity. What we give will be ours forever.

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