The City Council-appointed committee tasked with looking into new uses for Fairview Park will meet Wednesday to decide whether to make Fairview a better nature park than it already is or pave over Costa Mesa's last bit of undeveloped open space.
Before World War II, when most of our city was undeveloped, preserving a nature park would have been absurd. Now that Costa Mesa is built out and becoming more high-density every day, just the opposite is true. Fairview open space is priceless, and the park is home to endangered wildlife and the remains of a Native American village dating back 9,000 years.
To save Fairview, it's imperative that the Fairview Park Citizens Advisory Committee keep the existing model trains and do nothing more in the southeast quadrant than restore native plants. Habitat similar to that in the Newport Back Bay and Crystal Cove State Park bluffs would make Fairview a more enjoyable nature park experience.
Here are other things to keep in mind:
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service guidelines sent to the city on July 24 state that the vernal pool areas located east of Placentia Avenue require additional surveys to determine if San Diego fairy shrimp and sensitive vernal plant species are present in the southeast quadrant. The service recommends that the city delineate and protect the watershed of the three pools so protocol surveys can be completed. These will take longer than the committee is scheduled to be in session.
A legitimate protocol survey would take multiple non-drought years. Any topographic changes could change the hydrology of that area, which could further damage the vernal pools and get the city into even more trouble.
The same Fish and Wildlife Service letter suggests that an investigation related to a gravel path constructed through a wetlands area protected by the Endangered Species Act is ongoing. The result could force even greater development constraints in Fairview for any option other than restoration.
If there is a legitimate need for more development, such as a sports complex or a two-story multipurpose building, there are plenty of options. For instance, the Fairview Developmental Center property is scheduled for decommission in less than five years. Destroying priceless undeveloped open space is completely unnecessary, since there are more than enough alternatives that the committee is not structured to address.
If you want to protect the last bit of nature in Costa Mesa, attend the meeting or email the committee at FairviewPark@costamesaca.gov and make clear that you support only restoring Fairview to make it a better nature park for today's residents and future generations.
BRIAN BURNETT is a member of the citizens group, Friends of Fairview Nature Park, which can be viewed at http://www.savefairviewpark.org