Community Voices

Parks and Recreation Report: November 13, 2023

Commissioners Present:

Adrian Meza, Kathy Lira, Angela Lindstrom, Erik Wehn, and Susan Rhie

Department Updates:

First Night Fullerton will return this year from 7 pm to midnight on New Year’s Eve, and the annual Tree Lighting will be held at the downtown Winter Market.

In December, the city will host family events such as a “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” screening, a one-day holiday camp for children on December 22, and Camp Hillcrest during the two-week Winter Break.

At the Senior Center, music Thursdays led by Aimee Aul, featuring drum circles and singalongs, have been popular. Seniors can currently access free taxi rides around town, a service that will be funded until February 1. (although the Fullerton Observer has received multiple complaints that the taxi cab program is not always working the way it is purported to function).

Youth sports field allocation for spring has begun.

Special town events were successful, including St. Mary’s annual carnival, the Korean cultural festival, and a Resource and Health fair at Independence Park.

The renovation of Acacia Park is almost complete, and a ribbon cutting will be held in December.

Meanwhile, Hunt Library will re-open on April 6, 2024, after site improvements, including repaving of Basque, during Spring Break.

Public Comments:

Pooch Park

Several officers of the Dog Park Foundation spoke, expressing frustration at the lack of communication from the city about ongoing plans for the location and use of Pooch Park. In the last interaction, officers saw plans for a site at Brea Dam and were told that work would be done by December, but they remain in the dark about the project’s status. There has been a lack of communication between the city and the Dog Park Foundation members, who request transparency and updates from city staff and more input into the ongoing planning. Staff responded that the Army Corps of Engineers has requested revisions in the original plan for a dog park by Brea Dam and that the plans have been re-submitted.

proposed design for Union Pacific Park

Parks and Rec staff presented the proposed design for Union Pacific Park on Truslow. The plan includes a community garden, which could be used by nearby condo dwellers, playgrounds, pickleball, and basketball courts, and a fitness area. Commissioners were concerned about loud noise associated with pickleball events and the potential effect on the adjacent community. Staff reports that they had checked with neighbors who expressed that their main priority was that the park be in constant use throughout the day, not that there might be noise during daylight hours. Staff asserts there will be sufficient parking for the public on neighborhood streets. Costs for the proposed park would be $2.3 million, paid by two grants, 50 percent from a federal Land and Water Conservation grant and the other half from a Clean California grant, which has already been submitted. If grants are not approved, the Park dwelling fund will be tapped. The construction of Hub student housing near CSUF will contribute more to the Park Dwelling Funds soon.


Public Response to Plan for Union Pacific Park:

Local pickleball players were enthusiastic about having more access to pickleball courts and strongly urged the inclusion of outdoor courts in the design. The commissioners voted 3-2 to accept the park design in its current form.

Independence Park Update:

A proposed redesign for the 10 acres of Independence Park was shown to commissioners but has not yet been submitted for community input. It contains ten pickleball courts, as well as an adaptive playground. The existing racketball courts and skate park have been removed. The skatepark has been redesigned, above ground, larger, and closer to the street to assist with PD patrols. A new restroom must be built as the current one is not ADA-compliant, and the gym must be restored. The cost would be $2-3 million for the gym alone and $4-5 million for the whole park. Staff is busy applying for grants. It was suggested that EV chargers be installed on the premises as well. In public comments, Councilmember Dr. Shana Charles from District 3 recommended that this design be packaged as a comprehensive plan, including Independence Park, Union Pacific Trail, and Union Pacific Park, since council members who have voted no on recent trail plans have asserted that this vision was lacking.

Re-organization of Parks and Rec

Finally, there has been a re-organization of Parks and Rec, with new staff members coming on board, which should alleviate problems due to lean staffing experienced in recent years. Commissioner Lindstrom urged the future use of a planning tool,, which identifies the parts of the city that are park-poor and asks that more thought be given to park access in the southwest and southeast sectors of the city.

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