This is a story that relates a chain of events that goes back many years, Gentle Readers, so please be patient. For those who don’t think Redevelopment spends half its time fixing mistakes it created with the other half, we promise that you will learn a lot about the way your city has been run – in three bite-size installments.
Way, way back in the 1980s Terry Galvin of the Redevelopment Agency cooked up a deal with the Union Pacific Railroad to acquire their Mission Revival depot on Truslow and Harbor. It was properly seen as a valuable historic resource, but damn the luck! It was on the wrong side of the tracks! Galvin’s plan was to relocate it to its current location on Harbor and Santa Fe, attach a weird-looking wood box addition to it, and present it to his pals at The Spaghetti Factory for $1 a year. The first of Fullerton’s subsidized restaurants offered cheap carbs to the masses, and why not? They weren’t paying any rent!
But how does this narration tie into something called “Paseo Park” you ask? Patience, Friends, patience.
As usual the Redevelopment “experts” created more problems than they solved, for the empty lot created by the relocation was soon to become a permanent dumping ground for trash and junk – right next to Harbor Boulevard in the veritable gateway to Downtown Fullerton! And the painful irony: blight as a by-product of Redevelopment! But it was in the barrio so nobody cared.
But cleaning up junk on railroad property is not nearly so fun as playing Monopoly with other people’s money, and the problem festered for years and years – almost twenty to be exact; until the Union Pacific decided to unburden itself of this section of track and the adjacent depot site. Despite the fact that that the railroad was in negotiations with private citizens to buy the old depot site, the Redevelopment Agency led by Gary Chalupsky intervened, and acquired the property itself – with the ludicrous intention of building a trail and an adjacent park. The “trail” itself was utterly useless since it effectively ended at the Highland Avenue grade separation on one end, and the SoCo Walk project at the other. The park occupied the former depot space between Truslow and the trail. Check out the aerial.
And all the property was removed from the property-tax rolls forever.
Apart from the trail to nowhere, the park project itself was a dubious venture from the start. The location was not auspicious, and nobody from the community really wanted it. Sparsely attended “community” meetings showed that people on Truslow were concerned about on-street parking and getting rid of blight – not creating more. And they weren’t interested in a hang-out for the local gangs and borrachos by creating a “pocket park.” Well the City never let that sort of thing stand in the way of progress.
Skeptical observers noted that vast Richman Park was only a few blocks away, but this did not dampen enthusiasm in City Hall for a land grab: Susan Hunt, the Director of Community Services, was in a facility building mood – and that’s all that counted. Redevelopment money was there to grease the skids.