On Thursday, February 12, a mostly senior crowd attended an exploratory meeting to discuss the potential for a new park in the Oneonta neighborhood.
At the Oneonta Elementary School cafeteria, Imperial Beach public works director Hank Levine explained to the audience of approximately 40 that the intent of the meeting was to get residents’ feedback to see if there was enough interest for a park and what amenities such a park should feature.
Once the community-based planning group decides on a location, the city will apply for some of the 400 million dollars set aside for park construction in lower income neighborhoods under Proposition 84, the Statewide Park Act.
Residents attending the meeting expressed concerns about the park attracting gang members; others were concerned about loitering students from the nearby Job Corps training center; one woman stated her desire for a leash-free dog park.
Levine said that the park would need to be at least three quarters of an acre of land, be located near an intersection with high public visibility, and that the owners of private land that could be incorporated into the park must be willing to sell because eminent domain laws would not be used.
When asked if he or the city had any thoughts on where to locate the park, Levine hemmed and hawed slightly, saying he didn’t want to influence anyone’s decision. He finally admitted, “Pat Hutchins, from Hutchins Reality, and I have talked about a spot at Hemlock and 14th Street, where a church is located.”
Pat Hutchins, also present at the meeting, told those in attendance that Hutchins Reality had “about 100 units in the Oneonta neighborhood, small units, and prospective tenants...always ask if there [is] a place for children to play. It’s not us that would be enjoying a park, as we’re seniors and won’t be kicking up our heels.”