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Fairview Park committee holds initial meeting

Group touches on what its mission should be and how to formulate a vision for the parkland.

June 07, 2013|By Bradley Zint

During its first meeting Thursday, the Fairview Park Citizens Advisory Committee selected its leaders before discussing several topics, including the group's purpose, renewal of lease agreements and the possibility of adding soccer fields to the 208-acre park.

The reconvened committee, which hasn't met in about a decade, first heard some lesser-known tidbits — such as the park's land value — during a city staff presentation by Bart Mejia, parks project manager. If sold today, the park, which contains 50% of the city's total parkland, could be valued at a conservative $350 million to $400 million, Mejia said.

After his overview, the nine-member committee selected Richard Mehren as chairman and Steve Smith as vice chairman.

Mehren, a retired dentist, served on the previous Fairview Park committee, which adopted the Costa Mesa park's master plan. Smith is a writer and former Daily Pilot columnist.

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Some committee members said they felt unclear about the board's purpose.

Should they immediately discuss project goals for the park, like land planning and lease agreements? What about the big-picture view? Can the committee weigh in on the projects planned for the park that soon face a council budget vote?

And what of the park's master plan, which hasn't been updated in years?

Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger, who requested earlier this year that the committee be reconvened, said the committee's vision for the park should come from the community represented. Mensinger and Councilwoman Sandy Genis are council liaisons to the committee.

"This group is pulled together to look at Fairview Park and say, 'We like what we have or we don't like what we have, and this is what we want to see in the future,'" Mensinger said.

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Lease agreements, fields, lighting

Mehren's raised the issue of whether to renew lease agreements with the Harbor Soaring Society and Orange County Model Engineers. The Soaring Society is on a year-to-year agreement but has requested a five-year lease.

The engineer group's 25-year lease expires in the fall.

"It's kind of hard for them to make plans unless they know they're going to be there for some time," Mehren said.

Committee member David Stiller recommended bringing representatives from the two groups to future meetings.

Mensinger said the lease agreements "may not be what they're hoping for, but I think they're appropriate and cover what the community needs are. I don't think there's any intention of" ending them.

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