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Community Commentary -- Ken Everson Jr.

February 03, 2002

I have read several articles in your paper citing the concerns of a

handful of folks in this community who are opposed to the new Mormon

temple, its steeple, lighting, or whatever ("Craning to see the future,"

Tuesday). (Having attended our association meeting, I know it is a

handful, though they seem to have the loudest voices.)

Opposition to the building of churches or their symbolic parts, like

spires and steeples, somehow seems particularly troublesome in a

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post-Sept. 11 world. The things that go on in churches and temples foster

goodness in people and strengthen the fundamental relationships that give

life meaning and richness. Having been so recently reminded of the

importance of those relationships and of the things that matter most in

life, shouldn't we all welcome any and all efforts to turn our collective

thoughts toward those things?

On another level, that of good urban design and property values,

consider the charm of European villages and New England towns that have

beautiful public buildings, churches, statues, fountains, gardens, etc.

as part of their core. What would these towns be without the steeples and

statues rising above the surrounding trees and buildings?

These structures and spaces create tremendous value by giving the eye

and the soul a rest. A well-known urban planner "vista terminators." A

beautiful steeple, or a dramatically lighted church, surrounded by

gardens open to the public like the proposed Mormon building, inspire and

lift the human spirit. Can we afford not to build more of them in any

community? Talk about adding value.

When I read quotes like the one from the Bonita Canyon president using

words like "intrusionary symbolism" being "thrust on the community," I

can only shake my head in sad disbelief. I say, bring on the churches,

bring on the temples, bring on the gardens and parks, bring on the things

that add real value to our community life. (Those same things boost

property values as well, if you look at the data.)

* KEN EVERSON JR. is a Newport Beach resident.

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