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From the Boathouse: Wil Wright's is gone, but a plum space remains

March 20, 2013|By Mike Whitehead

Ahoy!

I remember a time in my youth when I was tossing newspapers while pedaling my Schwinn three-speed bike through the Bayshore Trailer Park. Some of you might remember that the park was located at the northeast corner of Dover Drive and Pacific Coast Highway in Newport Beach. I vividly remember the friendly tenants who greeted me daily, and that they had their own private boat launch ramp into the Back Bay.

I also remember the small retail center that was located next to the park fronting along the Coast Highway. There were three stores: everyone's favorite Wil Wright's ice cream store, a liquor store I think was called Rod's that sold tasty cheese ball snacks, and a very popular bait and tackle store, which I recall was named Roy's.

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The park was my final dropoff point for my Daily Pilot paper route that spanned the Coast Highway from the Arches Bridge to the then-called Reuben E. Lee Bridge. This was 1969, to date myself, and the trailer park and stores are long gone.

The corner was scrapped clean for the construction of the new bridge and highway expansion, a portion of which now sits over where the stores were located. The empty land where the trailer park was located has had a few different uses over the decades, and the property was eventually rezoned for recreational and marine commercial uses. This zoning includes the potential future development of a marina and a trailer boat launch ramp.

Herein lies the $25,000 question of what should be done with the property, which is now known as the Lower Castaways. Should it remain open space as a park, become a marina with a launch ramp or be converted to a RV park for visitors? The Newport Beach Harbor Commission held a study session last week to discuss the options and take public input for this last piece of open city-owned property that can be developed.

This is an important issue not only in Newport Beach, but across the nation as the public's access to water has dramatically decreased over the last few decades due to private development. Typically, developers and city planners have deemed the highest and best use for waterfront properties was condos with private marinas.

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