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What to watch

January 01, 2002

* EDITOR'S NOTE: Here is a look at stories that we think will continue

to make headlines in 2002, along with an actual headline likely to appear

in the Daily Pilot.

Newport piers get a second wind

By mid-April, the Newport and Balboa piers should be almost like new

after having undergone the most drastic renovations in their 60-year life

spans. The $2.7-million rehabilitation project includes new concrete

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surfaces, signs, gates and handrails. Electricity, gas, water and phone

lines now visible running down the piers will be concealed. Structural

work, including the concrete resurfacing, will make the piers stronger,

increase the amount of weight they can carry and make them better able to

endure a big storm. The work is expected to add about 20 years to the

life of the piers. But like most major construction work, pier

refurbishment hasn't been good news for everyone. Newport Pier Seafood

and Bar on the Newport Pier and Ruby's on the Balboa Pier both have had

to close for about two months while the most extensive work has required

the piers to close. The Balboa Pier is expected to reopen Feb. 22, while

Newport Pier will reopen March 22, though work will continue until about

April.

Park up in the air as voting day arrives

March could be maddening to El Toro airport supporters if Orange

County voters opt for a Great Park. The county will go to the polls on

March 5 for a thumbs-up or thumbs-down vote on the South County plan.

The Orange County Central Park and Nature Preserve Initiative, also

known as Measure W, would rezone the closed El Toro Marine Corps Air

Station so a park in the vein of New York's Central Park or San Diego's

Balboa Park could be developed.

A "yes" vote would quash hopes in Newport Beach that the base would

ever see an airport built. It would roll back 1994's Measure A, which

county voters passed to permit the airport.

Supporters of the Great Park, whose key architect was Irvine Mayor

Larry Agran, say their initiative has widespread support. Recent polls

seem to bear that out, indicating a 67% support level for the plan.

Costa Mesa council seats up for grabs

Campaign season promises to be exciting with a handful of vocal and

involved residents vying for a wide open council seat, while trying to

knock Mayor Linda Dixon off the dais.

Dixon and Councilman Gary Monahan are up for reelection, and while

Dixon will fight to keep her position, Monahan decided to bow out of

politics, leaving a handful of contenders to compete for his seat.

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