By Matt Kerley-Otten
Hello everyone! Here is an update on the situation concerning the land next to Mendenhall park. It’s going to be a long post so hold onto your butts!
After meeting with everyone last Tuesday, it appears that the situation is a little more complicated than we originally thought. The most LADWP representatives are able to do at this time is short term, making state funds for park expansion out of reach. It’s not that our local LADWP reps don’t want to help, they REALLY do, but their hands are tied at this time and this the best they can offer. That being said, I think it would be in our best interest to at least get SOMETHING in place even if its short term so once things calm down and long term leases are a possibility again, we will be in a position to work with both the county and LADWP to get something really good going. To that end, I propose we get something in place that both LADWP and the county will agree upon and will be a benefit to the town.
The LADWP reps informed me that because of the large amount of land they have to manage, maintaining upkeep and liability on a piece of property such as this WOULD NOT be feasible for them so they would have no choice but to fence the property off to some extent. I understand LADWP’s situation and why their hands are tied with this but I’m really grateful that they are willing to try and find a solution for everyone.
As for the county, their position is that they already have parks to maintain and feel that some park areas are neglected so adding more isn’t a good idea because it would put further strain on their system. They also don’t want to take on more liability than they already have, which is understandable.
This is where we come in: if we can show the county that we can help and there is interest, I think we can get them to take on this area of land for us locals. To achieve that we need to come up with an engineered plan (just a rough one) that can show that the county can take this land on WITHOUT a large increase in liability, maintenance, or financial investment.
From all of your feedback on the last post, the best things to put on the land to achieve this would be: disc golf course (not expensive to put in and once it’s in there is almost no maintenance) a walking path that incorporates the already standing trees so there would be shaded walk space where it can be achieved (we would just find a way to designate the path without needing to pour concrete, maybe decorative rocks, logs or other things that could be put down and/or moved easily), MAYBE a very small dog park that is along the walk path that is visible from 395 so travelers would stop (I know my customers would as they stop in) and a watering system for the existing trees and maybe MORE trees that would tie into the watering system (planting trees is never a bad thing!). We wouldn’t need to put in grass or anything like that and instead just keep this a large open space. These additions would be cheap, low liability, and easily removable if anything were to not work out, not putting the county in any kind of risk. As I said before, having this in place would put us in a very nice position to add larger things in the future that you guys really wanted (splash pad, skate park, maybe an updated baseball field and get sports going again etc) because a longer lease would give us state funds to add these things.
The other main issue is the overgrown weeds that would need to be maintained on the property and is another sore spot for the county. We have found a solution for this: California has a “Fire Safety” fund (millions of dollars available) that can be used to maintain these weeds as long as the town has a “Fire Safety Council.” If we can put in the foot work, California will give the money to buy equipment and pay people to take care of it. A new employee of the county is in charge of setting up these councils and helping them get funds, timing perfect with what needs to be done. I propose we set up a Fire Safety Council that is part of the Big Pine Civic Club/Big Pine Volunteer Fire Department that can take care of this issue AND help address additional fire concerns around the town that could potentially protect us in case of a large fire sweeping through the area. Two birds, one stone.
So this is as far as we have gotten. Depending on what you all think and if there aren’t any objections, I want to try and move forward with this plan. Again, as I put in my last post, I hold no office and have no power regarding these matters, I am only volunteering to spear head the effort to avoid a worst case scenario. In addition, I’m in a unique position with Copper Top to help out in additional ways, backing up what we are doing with the private sector for even more good will with the county and LADWP.
What we will need:
1. LADWP employees that are residents of Big Pine and are willing to help in any way possible. Engineers for the rough plan for example.
2. Current residents that want to help with Fire Safety council (an obvious choice would be current Big Pine Volunteer Fire Department members).
3. Decorations, art, rocks, ideas for the walk path.
4. MORE! (This is still in planning so any other help you guys can think of)
If you can help or have an idea of what might help, please send me an email at [email protected]
Let me know what you guys think in the comments below.
Written by Matthew Kerley-Otten of Coppertop BBQ