At the risk of comparing myself to a man famous for his insanity, it seems I too am guilty of tilting at windmills, or shall I say, the wrong windmills. In Wednesdays column, I erroneously commented on some decisions, and my take was not completely accurate.
First of all let me start off by apologizing to council-member Dal Williams. I implied that he was a member of the Optimist club when the decision was made to place the new Optimist club in Buena Vista Park, truth of the matter is that he was not yet a member. Second of all, I would like to apologize to the Optimist club members, where it is true that the Optimist club membership is made up of developers, contractors and realtors, it seems I have lost my bet. According to city officials no Optimists were involved in the acquiring of Buena Vista Park for mitigation purposes.
As to the new clubhouse, some things need to be set straight there as well. The Optimists will not be building a new road, they will be using an existing road built by the city of Vista. This road is on the original master plan and will cut through the park along an preexisting dirt road and sewer line that was there before the city acquired the park land. Although the new optimist club will be built next to the Dawson–Los Manos Ecological Natural Reserve, the parking lot will not be. The 90 space parking lot will be on the east side of the Hedionda Creek with a pedestrian bridge, linking the lot with the new clubhouse. How the sewer lines and other services will reach the clubhouse is yet to be determined.
Do I have options? We all know the answer is yes. First it needs to be stated that the current Optimist clubhouse is in no way endangering the Buena Vista Lagoon. What is endangering the lagoon however, is the current development policies of the cities of Vista, Carlsbad and Oceanside where Buena Creek crosses through these cities on the way to Buena Vista Lagoon. A highly visible example is the erosion of the creek bed along highway 78 at the Creekside development project. You can see this just east of the new Circuit City building, it's not a pretty sight.
The city of Vista is doing something to mitigate the siltation of the Buena Vista lagoon. That something is to build a water retention basin below Brengle Terrace park, where the Optimist clubhouse is currently located. Doesn't this seem to be a band aid? The purpose of the retention basin is to slow water as it passes on the way to the lagoon, thus reducing the downstream erosion. The retention basin would not be needed, if the downstream portions of the creek had been left to it's natural course, where for thousands of years, erosion has been controlled naturally. It seems to me that the problem is overdevelopment, too close to the creek bed.
Back to the issue at hand. The city needs the current site of the Optimist clubhouse to reduce damage to the Buena Vista lagoon. It doesn't make sense that they would offer up space right next to another ecological preserve. Given that we are in the process of revitalizing downtown, wouldn't it makes sense to use some of that space, or at the very least, use space which is less ecologically sensitive? When the medical buildings next to Wildwood park were acquired for the Historical Society, that was taking this group and putting them in an existing building, therefor reducing the additional impacts on our every shrinking undeveloped space. Can't we do this for the Optimist Club as well? And, in this process, bringing Vistas social life into the downtown hub.
Yes, I do tilt at windmills, and as long as there are windmills to tilt at, I will be there. As a person who grew up in Vista, spending over half my life here, I have seen the transformation from a sleepy little California town to a city with an unstable infrastructure, rampant growth and a disregard for open space. With the completion of the development in Carlsbad with the business parks, Lego amusement park, very soon, Buena Vista Park and the Dawson–Los Manos Ecological Natural Reserve will be an Island unto itself, completely surrounded by development. Doesn't it make sense that the City of Vista should start making the effort now to protect the space inside the park. If we fill the park with buildings, it ceases to be a park, and becomes just another community center with a few trees.
Once again, let me apologize to Councilmember Dal Williams and the members of the Optimist Club, next time I'll approach the windmill with my facts intact.