10 years later, and still no Hall Park

Youth sports teach personal ownership for actions.  As a boy, when I prepared to play for the Little League championship my dad Hank and our coach Mr. Moody told us kids “Excuses don’t win championships.”

I thought of my dad as I watched Encinitas Mayor Jerome Stocks being interviewed by Michael Turko on KUSI who wanted to know why, after 10 years and committing $46 million dollars, Hall Park hadn’t been built.  Mayor Stocks blamed others, pointing his finger at county regulators. It was an interesting choice.

In 2001 Stocks and the council bought the contaminated property without voter approval.  Because the council failed to perform adequate due diligence, residents asked the city to perform an environmental assessment to make sure the park was safe. Stocks and then-Mayor Bond refused.

Rather than perform the requested assessment they wasted money, paying lawyers to argue against residents.

They lost and a judge ordered the assessment.

The report showed that the property was contaminated; the city was required to file a treatment plan. Both time and money were wasted at a cost of close to $1 million to taxpayers.

The fact is the park was approved to be built years ago but the city doesn’t have the money. Money that should have gone to the park was spent on the wrong things. City unions that supported Stocks got pay raises.

The Fire Unions that supported Stocks got new fire stations. Union members like ex-fire chief and current un-elected council member Mark Muir, who directed efforts to elect Stocks, got pension raises. Meanwhile a generation of kids lost out on using the park and their taxpaying parents will foot the bill for new fire stations and pensions like Muir’s estimated at $170,000 dollars annually.  A 7-year-old little leaguer in 2001 is now 18 and off to college.  Fire unions got paid and residents got hosed.

Initial estimates to build the park were $40 million.  Now the number is $18 million for a reduced, bare bones, phase-one only park and the city still doesn’t even have the money for that. Mayor Stocks and the city have known for 10 years the cost of the park, but have only saved $9 million.

People who have benefited from Hall Park are politicians who have used it as a tool to bully the public and scare up votes. During their re-election campaigns of 2004 and 2008 Stocks and Bond gained advantage from flyers using youth sports as political pawns. Stocks and Bond promised phase-one and delivered “phase-none.”

Because 2012 is an election year and Stocks is seeking votes, we might see staged political pageantry like a ribbon cutting or shovel turning ceremony at the park.

The city might move some dirt around and call it grading.  Such staged political progress could provide Stocks and un-elected council member Muir with a self-serving photo opportunity while giving the public the illusion of false progress. Watch for it.

Prior to the 2010 election, five mounds of dirt were placed on the Hall property in a staged effort to show progress and make Dan Dalager look election-worthy.  The public wasn’t buying it and voted Dalager out.

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  1. kathleen2 says:

    Well said, Andrew. Thank-you

  2. Chris says:

    While this is going on, the city is battling the county to not complete the cleanup required of contaminated soil on the Hall property greenhouse land. The city wants the county to sign off on a cheaper, presumably less effective, toxic clean up plan. I hope the county does not back down and we can have a safe park.
    This is a problem for the ‘Flower Capital of The World’. I hope the city acts responsiably.

  3. Doug says:

    Meanwhile, the city council decides it has $80,000 to blow on legal costs to suppress the release of the road report. This council needs to be recalled.

    • Patrick O'Connor says:

      Times up for guess work. We are ready to stop playing interest only. We have burned $10M in real money carrying this mess and more with RJM consultants. No contingencies just a quickie escrow and a truckload of bad decisions. Challenge JS and JB and lady K with a refinance to a number to pay off and build the park with General Obligation Bonds all you need is a 66% public vote . Easy go easy play.

  4. Lynn Marr says:

    So much money has been wasted. Had we known the true expense of building the library behind City Hall, we NEVER WOULD HAVE VOTED FOR THAT SITE. The library could have been built near Quail Gardens Dr, But to assuage the vanity of Stocks and Bond, among others, the library was built where it is NOT easily accessible to public transportation, due to the very steep hill, which hill also necessitated a HUGE RETAINING WALL.

    Our library was built, finally, for over 24 million dollars, while the previous headquarters for San Dieguito Water District, and the public works yard was eliminated, necessitating another enormously costly purchase of the Mossy Property, and our spending over $11 million on buying it, then making it ADA accessible, when it was falsely sold as “turn key.” Meanwhile, the ratepayers of SDWD were and ARE BEING CHEATED, as we were never justly compensated for our equity in the land, but were “credited” a mere million dollars, and then were CHARGED over $3.4 million more, STOLEN FROM OUR RESERVES, for RIGHT OF USE ONLY of the new public works yard; we are not now on title, although we had owned our previous SDWD department and grounds, including the Public Works Yard OUTRIGHT, and collected rent of about $10,000 per year, from the City of Encinitas.

    There is a definite conflict of interest, and there has been NO advocate for SDWD ratepayers as our Council is ALSO the Board of Directors for SDWD. We are so tired of career politicians, with close ties to deep pocket developers doing “pocket deals” with the greedy hands that feed them!

    Serving on Council should NOT be a career, but a service. We hope that we can get a sunshine law and term limits on the ballot someday. Incumbents Stocks and Bond appear to count on ignorance and apathy to get themselves re-elected. More and more are realizing they have “served their purpose.”

    Please give us a break! We hope people read and become informed, that so many won’t just read the campaign signs and follow misleading directions circulated by direct mailer scams, distributed by shady political action committees who allegedly “do not coordinate” with those they deceitfully promote.

    Occupy integrity!

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