When is An Historic Resource Not An Historic Resource?

As quickly as you can, Grasshopper, snatch the park from its owners...

When it’s Fullerton’s Hillcrest Park, of course. Then it’s a resource of a different kind: an opportunity for City Staff to play upon the sentimentality of Fullerton’s park and history lovers to destroy the very resource that is ostensibly being saved.

They did it 15 years ago and they are doing it again.

I went to Saturday’s latest public meeting to “save the park” and witnessed something quite remarkable. Just like last time the City staff has employed a consultant to remake the park in its own desired form, replete with new facilities it can market or operate, while ignoring the true needs of the old girl.

But this time the ludicrousness of the whole operation became apparent immediately. A representative of the landscape architect hired to foist the exploitative plan informed us all what was wrong with Hillcrest Park. It has bad chi. And all these years we just thought it was neglect by the parks and police departments. Chi. Hmm.

So what’s the solution to clean up the chi and get things all aligned, nice and proper?

A restaurant, for one thing, down by the duck pond; and a new park entrance; new retaining walls along the Brea Creek and an abandonment of the interior roadways might just get that troublesome chi back in balance, we were informed.

Ye Gods! Chi. What’s next, park feng shui?

Use the Force, Luke...

I don’t know how much we’re paying these yahoos to further destroy our park, but I’ll bet it’s a lot. And I’ll also bet that Redevelopment money is picking up at least part of the tab. And ultimately the only way to pay to comprehensively destroy this historic resouce is to use big piles of Redevelopment money to do it. Redevelopment destroying historic resources. That’s not a new theme.

Hillcrest Park is on the National Register of Historic places but nobody seems to treat it like it were. Only last year the City embarked on massive alterations to the north slope of the park without review by the Landmarks Commission.

Well, good luck Hillcrest. And in the meantime may the chi be with you.

20 Replies to “When is An Historic Resource Not An Historic Resource?”

  1. Redevelopment is going to put in a shiny new golden arches so the kiddies and the pedos can all get their milk shakes and nuggets.

  2. ah so, Hillcrest need chi and possibly a chinese restaurant. yin and yang are complimentary polar opposites like private enterprise and government putting their heads together to make a chi park. In the real world, government sponsored private enterprise is an oxymoron.

  3. The problem with improving Hillcrest Park is that it relocates the homosexuals looking for a fun time to the Brea Dam area. Remember a few years ago when the City aggressively cut the trees and shrubs back in Hillcrest Park? With nowhere else to hide anymore, they all flocked to the Brea Dam.

    I’m all for preserving old landmarks, but I think you’ll find the nearby residents are far less enthusiastic about Hillcrest.

    A group of neighbors had this discussion recently. Because of the ongoing illegal activities there, NONE of us are willing to visit Hillcrest Park alone, much less with our families — unless we were armed to defend ourselves.

    Speaking only for myself, Hillcrest Park is of little importance or benefit to the City.

  4. ted, last time I didn’t feel totally creeped out by this park was in 1976. I remember reading in the newspaper about a pedophile who dressed as a clown and pestered children in the boys bathroom. I wondered if he called himself chi-cles the clown

  5. I’m sure that pedo-clown moved on to bigger and better things, like being a politician.

    Seriously though, I’d like to see a list of people who really want the park to be preserved in its current state. You won’t find anybody on my street. And I can see Hillcrest from my living room window.

    Speaking of clowns, City Hall sent me a form letter asking that I attend this same clownfest at Hillcrest Park. Unless I was halucinating at the time, the letter said something about a 100 people attending, or interested in the project, or doing something silly. Hell, I don’t know.

    I’m all for preserving old landmarks and historic places, but if Hillcrest burned to the ground tomorrow, I wouldn’t shed a tear.

  6. Hey Travis, you’re good at researching stuff. Landscaping costs aside, I’ll bet you Hillcrest is one of the most expensive parks in north OC. The Fullerton PD must spend a fortune conducting undercover sting operations here. Any way to find out?

  7. Ted, you’re missing the point, entirely, if I may say so.

    The park is unpopular precisely because the City has failed to maintain it or properly police it over the years. The City is responsible for all the public apprehensions and misapprehensions about Hillcrest.

    And now, once again, their solution is more make-work projects for the Community Service, Community Planning, and Redevelopment staffs.

    The fact that Hillcrest is historical may not resonate with everybody, but it does with me; as does the fact that over the years the City has turned a blind eye to its own Landmarks Code.

    And as Pat Schafley would say: that’s just wrong!

  8. I veered off-topic. I’m sorry. If anything, this discussion was meant to be ammunition *against* redevelopment of the park. Why? Because no matter what they change or don’t change, I still won’t go there.

    Still somewhat off-topic (sorry) one word that really bothers me is “park”. What does it mean anymore? Every special interest out there latches onto that word to promote their own interests. The notion is that any place deemed a “park” is desirable to everybody. As I’ve pointed out here, that’s not how I feel about Hillcrest.

    1. You are right about a park having different connotations for different people.

      Hillcrest Park fits a mold that was popular in the early 1900s – a bucolic island where urbanites could find rest ans relaxation. Obviously that was an odd fit with rural Fullerton, but there you have it: it was de riguer for any “progressive” city – and Fullerton did so dearly want to be considered progressive.

      Nevertheless, the park as built out in the 1930s, actually makes a lot more sense today – a nice, quiet place without any ballfields and youth sports (if you don’t count Lion’s Field) clogging it up.

      Fred is RIGHT ON THE MONEY. The City has neglected the park for 50 years. Hillsides have been left bare and have eroded badly; the hardscape and rock work have gone unattended; incompatible concrete block walls and street lights were added here and there as Hugh Berry saw fit.

      And of course the City let the perverts infest the park when zero tolerance should have been exercised.

      It takes a certain vision to appreciate the latent value of a resource that has suffered (benign?) neglect. Clearly the City’s only vision is to keep milking this old park for what they can get out of it – just like scammers prey upon an old lady until the bank account is empty.

      Harsh? No way.

  9. I remember the clown incident from when I was a kid. I also remember when on the weekends Hillcrest would fill up with bikers until one day the police came and ran them all out with their nightsticks and riot gear. I also remember the duck pond and how one day all the ducks had been killed. I have been asked to go to the bathrooms there. I have seen couples banging away on the big lawns while they lay under blankets. I watched have watched cars cruise the roadway endlessly, and have watched business men in their BMW pull right in and head to the bathroom by the playground. I have found porno mags lying about, watched people smoke pot, & gang members stand about menacing. I hear yells coming out of there at all hours of the night on weekends.
    I have to say this plan is a joke, just like all the other plans that have been trotted out over the years for Hillcrest Park. It’s too bad really because somewhere in there, Hillcrest could be a nice park.

  10. Hill”homo/homeless”crest Park is not a breath of fresh air. Instead, it is a menace to society and needs to be restored to its original purpose or put to good use by selling it off to private enterprise

  11. It is sad for me to read what has happened to the park. It was my favorite place to fish between 1965 through the early 70’s and I never felt unsafe – it was a different world then. My kids are down at the dock of Lake Mission Viejo fishing everyday without worries – it is too bad Fullerton can’t recreate a safe kid environment.

  12. Okay, so, yeah, I get it. NY’s Central Park has Tavern On The Green. But this isn’t that fine park, this is a park that has gone greatly neglected for too many years. Now, rather than fixing up what’s already there, they want us to put a lot of money into building news things.

    How about fixing the slopes below the Izaak Walton League building? What about actually using the IWL building as the HQ for Parks and Rec? Now wouldn’t that make sense since it seems mainly to be vacant most of the time, and also horribly susceptible to graffiti? A presence at the park would go a long way to ensuring that what’s fixed isn’t ruined right away. I’m just saying that if you have a park, then use it. The Parks and Rec dept shouldn’t be sequestered in the basement of city hall.

    What’s lining the creek now is rip rap. Rip Rap isn’t the greatest either aesthetically or more to the point, to control erosion. However, I have yet to see any evidence of this small creek eroding. If anything, plant some native vegetation if the goal is to keep it from eroding (which is isn’t). But concrete retaining walls? Excessive.

    I have no doubt those banks where the Lions field is were in need of repair. But what’s gone up was again….excessive. The vision given to the residents was the hillside was eroding and would fall on the heads of little children. Hogwash. They could have achieved something similar without the grading and the multimillion dollar concrete brick wall by simply grading in the right spots, planting and ensuring there was some kind of regular irrigation to keep the new planting alive.

    It’s always a matter of HOW MUCH do we have to do? I’m all for fixing up the park, but I’m not for putting in a restaurant that will more than likely be poorly staffed and under utilized. A money loser for sure.

  13. With all the rapid change we see in the world today,brought to us with new technology,I would think anything we can do to keep the best of what we have had in the past, as it was ….so that those who come along in the future can appreciate how it was, how it was used, and how it affected our lives.
    The park should be restored, as close to it’s original topography as possible.(You could add a bocchi ball facility to bring some of us locals back ).
    We do not need another Summit House,to be used to make dollars for private advantage,while using public facilities at low cost to themselves. There are more than enough mediocre restaurants in Fullerton,attracting young alcoholic lawbreakers to our downtown.
    We do not need more businesses, we need more places to relax and enjoy. without money as the central theme of our lives.
    Give us back the park, the way it was….that is enough!

  14. New York can keep Central Park amazingly alive and vibrant and Fullerton watches as Hillcrest crumbles into the ground. It is shocking that our City cares so little.

    Re the old duck pond. I think there are laws now that would prevent just emptying a migratory bird water/nesting source. I remember when they emptied the pond (because people were killing the ducks (?). I don’t think there has been a rash of duck killings anywhere in So Cal in the past 25 years. Why is the pond not refurbished?

  15. We had similar problems in Anaheim with our 1920s era Pearson Park, the druggies,gangs, and homeless population took it over. The City was unwilling to help, they had written off our inner city in the hope that their developer buddies could pick up the lots cheap after decent people fled the area. Instead we took a stand. Residents worked with the few Police officers and Code Enforcement personnel that still had a vision for what could be, got help for the homeless, got the crime out of there with flashlight walks and citizen presence in the park. We took it over by being there and being VERY visible. The people of Anaheim made it clear that it was our park and the bad guys could not have it. You might look into it. Lots of work, lots of time, and not always fun, but the payoff is a park that families can use.

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