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El Corazon makes a nice gift

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
North County Times
January 18, 2002


There is a glaring misunderstanding permeating the Oceanside political process that must be cleared up if truth and integrity is important to the voters of Oceanside. As for the Oceanside City Council, it's unlikely the majority of them could tell the difference between truth, and their own personal agendas. Never the less, a major point must be made clear.

When Oceanside residents voted in favor of Manchester Resort being built downtown, giving Manchester the 445 acre El Corazon property was not a part of the ballot initiative. Some how I doubt the sensible people of Oceanside would allow their elected officials to give away 445 acres that could be used to meet the city growing recreational needs. The city of Encinitas just paid 17 million for 43 acres of park land. I wonder what 445 acres is worth on the open market?

If this issue were a congressional bill, attaching a 445 acre gift to a legally approved project would be considered a rider. What the residents of Oceanside have done is not open the city to a lawsuit by the overreaching Doug Manchester, but pointed a spotlight at the double dealing being perpetrated by the Council's majority. If anything, the City Council is making promises in bad faith. Public property is not theirs to give away.

For four City Council members to say public land is too costly to develop into a city park is disingenuous. Their job is to find ways to meet public needs, not deciding they are too costly to pursue and then give away land that could meet those needs. Wise leadership should include looking past one's own tenure, not sweeping responsibility under the corporate carpet. By giving away the El Corazon property they only impose further debt when in the future city staff must purchase park space to meet the needs of residents.

The city of Vista, when given the Brengle property took years to develop it into the comprehensive park it is today. Slowly but surely, Brengle Terrace park has grown with that city's growing population, without bankrupting city coffers. In 1976 the park was only a series a rolling hillsides with a few picnic tables, today Brengle Terrace Park is home to a senior center, the Moonlight Amphitheatre, a community center, play lots, basketball courts, and ball fields. All it took was vision, a whole lot of patience, and twenty six years of wise leadership.

The role of any city council is to meet the collective needs residents can't meet for themselves. Roads, sewer, parks, fire, and police protection, are but a few. Not in the job description is giving away public land or floating bonds to help finance development on existing parkland. I still can't believe a majority on the Oceanside City Council has the audacity to openly advocate such a risky proposition considering Manchester's questionable finances and the miserable state of Oceanside's existing golf courses.

What really boggles the mind is how much money the city of Oceanside could generate if they where to sell the entire El Corazon property. By investing the funds the city could create an economic infrastructure the help meet the costs associates with the acquisition and development of future parks and related facilities, not to mention the new police dispatch system the city would like to buy.

El Corazon is city property, should remain city property, and efforts to alter that reality should be seen as a direct attack on the residential tax payers of that mislead city.

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