OCEANSIDE — Council members spoke of their support for Fire Mountain Park at the Oct. 1 council meeting, but voted 3-2 against on referring the issue to staff. Chavez, Feller and Kern voted no.
Some felt the “no” votes were cast to deny Councilwoman Esther Sanchez credit for bringing the issue before council. Many said, “It’s political.”
“We don’t even get a chance to participate,” resident Lennie Rae Cooke, who addressed council about reopening the area as a park, said.
Cooke and more than a half dozen other residents urged council to designate the 2.2 acres as a park, so they could move forward with fundraising efforts to begin park development.
Supporters for reopening the park pointed out the beautiful views and neighborhood need for a recreation space. “It would allow people to enjoy Fire Mountain the way it should be enjoyed,” Laurie Bergthold said. “There is no place for your child to go and swing on a swing, or enjoy the outdoors.”
“Residents want to partner with the city,” Sanchez said.
Councilman Jerry Kern voiced opposition to developing a park on the site due to the fact that the acreage currently houses a reservoir tank, and a second reservoir tank may eventually be added to the site. “I know people like parks,” Kern said. “This is a reservoir site right now. Why should we spend money on a temporary park? We will put a reservoir there if this is what we need.”
Others on the council saw no problem developing part of the site as a park, even if a second reservoir tank was later added. “If we put another tower on it we still have land for a park,” Mayor Jim Wood said.
Perhaps the strongest reason for opposition was that the item had not gone through due process. Councilman Rocky Chavez said it is ill advised to refer the item to council before the park and recreation committee had reviewed it.
Chavez said reopening the park has been discussed in neighborhood meetings since February 2008, is on the list of items to be reviewed by the park and recreation committee in 2009, and will then proceed to council.