Jim Markle 6:30 p.m., June 30
Wave of Support for Belmont Park
Residents of Mission Beach flooded council chambers on June 14 in support of Tom Lochtefeld (pictured at left), who leases Belmont Park.
"I'm here on behalf of businesses that are adjacent to Belmont Park," said local business owner Mary Saska. "Belmont Park, and The Plunge, is an icon. It's a place where you can bring your family."
More than one dozen supporters stood behind Saska, all asking that the City work with Lochtefeld and give credits towards rent so that improvements can be made and the park can reopen.
For years, Lochtefeld and the City have been at an impasse. Since assuming the lease in 2002, Lochtefeld has spent nearly $12.7 million in capital improvements to the park. And yet, despite those improvements, Lochtefeld says that the City's Real Estate Assets Department has rejected efforts to renegotiate the land lease and increased the rent on the land by more than 700 percent.
Without the rental credits, and with the increased rent, Lochtefeld is unable to make the improvements necessary and residents of Mission Beach fear that the park will once again be a stomping ground for transients and addicts.
"In my youth there was a lot of crime in the area around Belmont Park," said one longtime Mission Beach resident. "The whole area felt unsafe. I don't want to see it turn back to...that state of deterioration. Let this guy do his job."
Later, councilmember Kevin Faulconer briefly commented on the issue. "I know how important [Belmont Park] is to our community and how important it is to keep it open and move forward."
More like this:
- Citizens Protest Plunge Closure, Request City Council Action — June 21, 2011
- SoundWave Crashes — June 1, 2011
- Un-Sound Wave Hits Mission Beach's Belmont Park — Dec. 1, 2010
- Belmont Park Predicament Not Amusing — Nov. 9, 2010
- Blowin' Away? — Jan. 7, 2009