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COMMUNITY COMMENTARY:Newport Center Park -- Keep the promise

February 27, 2007|By Edward Selich

With all the attention given to the so-called Ficker Plan to build City Hall at Newport Center Park, I feel compelled to share a concept that the City Hall Building Committee, of which I am a member, is analyzing.

First of all, the basic issue here is not where City Hall should be located but rather the obligation of the City Council to honor the promises and commitments it makes to its citizens.

For more than 15 years, Newport Center Park has been planned and zoned for a park. Many hours of outreach were done with varied interest groups to design a plan for the park that represents a consensus vision of how the park should be developed.

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The final construction plans are almost done, and funds are budgeted for its construction with a donor willing to assist.

We can debate whether this site should have been a park or city hall, but it is, in fact, a park. It can't be both. Mr. Ficker should have brought his idea forward many years ago.

Grass on the roof of a building does not make a park. This City Council must honor the contract it made with its citizens when it created this park and not change it into something else.

There is a vision in the plan for this park and it cannot be done with a building underneath it.

For the City Council to change its mind now will be detrimental to the faith citizens have in the integrity of the City Council.

I am sharing the concept of using the Orange County Transportation Authority transit facility and adjacent vacant land because there appears to be this feeling that the only viable option in Newport Center is to use Newport Center Park for the city hall. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are evaluating the police facility site and other opportunities in Newport Center.

The diagram shows:

  • A 72,000-square-foot, two-story city hall on the transit facility site that is not in the view plane of any homes.

  • A relocated transit facility to Avocado Avenue and San Miguel Drive, which would be below the elevation of MacArthur Boulevard and not in anyone's view plane. Combined with a city hall there is a unique opportunity to create an innovative City Hall/Transit Facility complex.

    As our transit needs grow over the coming years, this could evolve into a state-of-the art facility that would integrate local transit needs with the transportation authority's service and improve traffic conditions in our city.

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