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A small group of Mission Hills residents are so adamant about scoring parkland for their neighborhood, they are willing to spend over a million dollars to hardscape a third of an acre of environmentally sensitive land just to be able to call it a park. Objections have been voiced by the area's planning group and by residents in neighboring communities, who feel the money should be spent on parkland more people can enjoy.

The "West Lewis Street Mini-Park" is viewed by most residents of the Uptown district as more of a money pit than a mini-park. The number of people that now oppose the park (at the corner of Falcon Street and West Lewis Street in an upper-class residential area of Mission Hills) has skyrocketed along with its projected cost.

From the outset, the cost for building the park has exceeded previous predictions. For phase one alone, the estimated cost was around $450,000; that price has swelled to around $650,000.

“We’re talking about major development, basically paving the area and constructing a steel bridge,” says Leo Wilson, chair of the Uptown Planners. “And then connecting the two streets out into the canyon. The whole thing is going to cost well over a million dollars, and this is just a sliver. This isn’t a park; this is a mini-development.”

Wilson says the money could instead be used for higher density urban areas that more people will be able to enjoy. “Let’s get urban parks in the urban corps and leave the natural vistas to accommodate the open space.”

According to the site-development permit for the area, the park will include “construction of a steel-supported pedestrian bridge with wood treads and a trail development of the park design; [the] western portion (Goldfinch Street) includes finish grading, drainage, pedestrian ramps, hardscape, decomposed granite paving, decorative boulders, temporary irrigation, and plantings. The park will have lookouts to the natural canyon to the north”

Besides the cost, the teeny park would impact an amount of sensitive upland habitats that is nearly twice what the City allows, requiring some type of mitigation between the City and the developers of the park. “To qualify for an exemption, the total impacts to upland habitat must not exceed 0.1 acres; the combined project impacts would exceed .19 acres and so mitigation would be required. Biological report must include mitigation measures.”

The sliver of parkland will be on the December agenda for the Uptown Planners. They meet at the Joyce Beers Community Center in Hillcrest on the first Tuesday of every month, 6:00pm.

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