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Costa Mesa considers parks and recreation goals

Parks commissioners and council members gather to discuss acquiring Talbert park, possibility of incorporating part of Banning Ranch, and more.

May 14, 2013|By Bradley Zint

The Costa Mesa Parks and Recreation Commission met alongside the City Council on Tuesday at City Hall to review about a dozen goals, among them the potential acquisition of the county-run Talbert Regional Park.

One underlying question soon became apparent: Are Costa Mesa's recreational offerings such as parks and community gardens primarily benefiting residents, or are the city's assets mostly used by folks from out of town?

The question reflects "a lot of concerns in this community," said Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger.

"We rent fields, we have all these things going on," he said, "but we continue to have great assets which we don't manage or we give to other people who may or may not be serving the community, this community, as much as they should."

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Parks commission Chairman Byron de Arakal expressed a similar concern regarding any updating of the city's athletic field use and allocation policy — the issuing of permits for city and Newport-Mesa Unified School District athletic fields to organizations and the general public.

"I just want the community to know that my first priority is that those assets are to be used to meet the needs of our community first," de Arakal said, "and if there aren't enough assets or resources to serve those needs, there are no outside deals. Period."

Councilwoman Sandy Genis called for a balance, saying many Costa Mesans use assets of other communities too, such as Huntington Dog Beach and Newport Beach's coastline in general.

"If we start telling people from other cities, 'You can't use our stuff,' well, they're gonna tell us we can't use their stuff," Genis said.

Concerning the possibility of bringing Talbert under city control, which the council proposed in March, Mensinger said preliminary talks have been held with the county. Genis said city should finish its Fairview Park efforts "before taking on something else."

Councilwoman Wendy Leece urged that any management plans for Talbert fit into the Orange Coast River Park's plans. The proposed 1,000-acre preserve would encompass nature portions of Newport, Huntington and Costa Mesa, including Talbert and nearby Fairview Park.

"We should fit in with what they're planning," Leece said.

Mayor Jim Righeimer also urged the city to look into incorporating a portion of the Banning Ranch property.

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