So you may have heard we had a Hootenanny in the Heights recently.
More than 200 people gathered in Cliff Drive Park for fun and games, food and fellowship. Our Fire Department grilled up hot dogs, and the recreation staff supervised games and events for the kids.
My colleague Mike Henn and his young partner were fierce competitors in the three-legged race. In all, the folks in Newport Heights learned about their neighbors, their city support, including the council and staff, and the myriad improvement projects in West Newport.
Did you know that we are on track to invest more than $36 million in improvement projects serving West Newport Beach in this year's capital improvement budget? That is about 52% of the city's total capital investments this year.
This includes major infrastructure like water, sewer and utility projects — service that is vital but not so glamorous. But it also includes significant projects for the benefit of leisure and recreation, aesthetics and neighborhood enhancement.
Here's a sample of what's in store:
Marina Park: Construction will start this year on a 10-acre active park, community and sailing center and marina, including a Girl Scout building.
Sunset Ridge Park: The almost 14-acre park will include a ball field and two soccer fields for youth sports, a playing area, walking paths and a great Catalina view. Construction should begin in the first quarter of 2014.
Northwest corner of Sunset View Park: Plans were completed, approved by the city and submitted to the California Coastal Commission in a record six months. Construction of this passive-view park, adjacent to Villa Balboa, is expected to start in the first quarter of 2014.
Balboa Boulevard landscape plan: It's the reforestation of Balboa Boulevard. A landscape project conceived by a committee of West Newport residents, this plan involves landscaping, medians and major parkway improvements on Balboa Boulevard between West Coast Highway and 22nd Street. This project should be completed by summer 2014.
West Coast Highway landscape plan: Part of another long-range effort supported by West Newport residents, this project will add significant low-level trees and enhanced landscape palettes to Coast Highway from the Santa Ana River to Newport Boulevard. The city is negotiating with Caltrans and is committed to moving this forward in the next budget cycle.
Balboa Boulevard utility undergrounding: The City Council recently agreed to underground the utility poles and overhead lines from River Avenue to 22nd Street. These projects take awhile but could begin as early as spring 2016.
Electric reliability: The city has been meeting with Southern California Edison to end the unplanned outages in our part of town. Currently, Edison is replacing wood poles and hardware in various areas of the city, including West Newport. Edison will also be improving some of its key underground vaults in the near future.
Street concrete and slurry seal: This year's city street repair focus will be on the Newport Heights area. Once the concrete sidewalk and gutter-repair projects are complete in the winter of 2014, a second project to the slurry seal the streets within the Newport Heights area will follow.
Newport Boulevard at 32nd Street modification: This project would end the bottleneck as one enters Balboa Peninsula by widening Newport Boulevard with one additional through-vehicle lane from Via Lido to 32nd Street, terminating as a right-turn-only lane at 32nd Street, and adding a third lane on the peninsula between 30th and 32nd. It also includes landscaping and bicycle-lane improvements. The project is currently in design, and construction is estimated to start around winter 2015, or sooner if coastal permitting goes quicker than anticipated.
And this is a partial list of the commitments coming to West Newport Beach. From the Balboa Village revitalization to the planning and design concepts for Lower Castaways, West Newport will see significant new investment.
We talked about these and many more projects at the Hootenanny. We also talked about Doug's dogs and Adam's first day at school. Next time please join us. You just might be surprised by what you hear.
TONY PETROS is a Newport Beach city councilman.