The Union Pacific Park Sink Hole. What’s Next For The Park From Hell?

The Park That Never Was...

The history of Redevelopment failures should weigh heavily in the upcoming recall campaign. The disasters and boondoggles are many, but none so painful, perhaps, than the Poisoned Park. This is a saga of utter incompetence with zero accountability; in other words, business as usual for our illustrious City Councilmen Bankhead and Jones. McPension gets off this hook because he wasn’t part of this calamity, although you could bet your bottom dollar he would have gone along with it, too.

This post was originally published 27 months ago. The public is still fenced off from the contamination.

– Joe Sipowicz

It was supposed to be a park. That’s how they pitched it over at City Hall. The only problem was that nobody asked for a park. And nobody outside City Hall wanted a park. Commonsense could have predicted the future of a park.

We are referring, of course, to the Union Pacific Park on West Truslow Avenue, the sad history of which has been well documented on these pages; and one of many in a conga line of Redevelopment disasters perpetrated by Terry Galvin and Gary Chalupsky of the Fullerton Redevelopment Agency- in this case aided and abetted by Susan Hunt the lady dragon of the Community Services Department, and former City Manager Jim Armstrong, mastermind of a million Fullerton failures. We have also stressed the fact that so far nobody has been held accountable for this miserable failure and waste of millions of tax dollars. No one.

Last Tuesday, during the public comments portion of the City Council Show, a longtime resident who lives on Truslow Avenue, across from The Great Disaster spoke about the  problems the City had created when they decided to bestow a park upon unwilling residents. Below we share the video of the residents statement, as well as the response by City Manager Chris Myers. The video is a bit long, but well worth the watch. Borrachos, meth-heads, gang members. Who else did the City think was going to frequent this park?

In the end Myers admits that the park is being shut down – toilets closed, tables removed, fences going up, etc. You can decide for yourselves if can detect any contrition in his voice for the complete and unarguable waste of the millions spent on acquiring, designing, and building this park THAT IS ONLY FIVE YEARS OLD.

Now the city wants to create a “reuse committee,” ostensibly to figure out how to clean up the mess they created.

Here’s a free bit of advice from FFFF: SELL THE PROPERTY ASAP! And let’s not forget a complete investigation into this entire disaster with accountability for the people who created this mess. Perhaps the three councilperson who don’t have their fingerprints all over this debacle, Quirk, Keller, and Nelson, will be willing to demand accountability.

27 Replies to “The Union Pacific Park Sink Hole. What’s Next For The Park From Hell?”

  1. A really good post. You guys nailed it first and helped prevent a quiet cover-up.

    And you are right, Shadow: clean-it up (more $) and sell it. Who was responsible for buying contaminated property in the first place. And how could any idiot ever think the UP ROW could be a “linear” park. This was nothing but a greedy land grab by city bureaucrats in order to bank land.

    But sadly I doubt if there will ever be an inquiry or an explanation to the public. Can I apply to be on the reuse committee. Those meetings oughta be a hoot!

  2. Holy Moses! That’s blight if I’ve ever seen it! And the City built it in 2003? And these are the same charlatans who want to expand redevelopment?

    These guys aren’t blight-fighters. They are blight builders!

  3. At least they finally admitted that it’s time to shut it down and do something else. That’s a step in the right direction.

    Forget the committee, just sell it and use the money for something more important.

  4. Travis, you can’t sell it ’til you clean it up. And the City Council will be told that the cost of that is prohibitive, etc. Therefore they will be told that the best thing to do is to slap some asphalt over it and turn it into a parking lot.

    The Shadow was right in her original post (Part 3). The City will turn this into Metrolink parking. And yes, I’m giving odds.

  5. For staying on top of this. Barbara Giasone and Sharon Kennedy are still waiting for the official version of the story to come out so they can reprint it.

  6. Harpoon, why would they make more Metrolink parking when they’re going to build that huge parking structure just across the tracks?

  7. Okay, seriously. What it’s used for and what it’s pitched as to the City Council are two different things. But you do raise an excellent point. Let’s remember it!

    What’s interesting is whether City staff will try to keep the basketball court when everything else is gone.

    One thing is for sure: it’s going to be a municipal embarrassment for a long time.

    BTW, I’m going to write a short follow-up post about this. Stay tuned.

  8. Hello All,

    Thanks to longtime West Truslow resident, who explained at Council meeting, goings-on and lack of City public safety enforcement at Union Pacific Park.

    Thank you also FFFF Administrator, Joe Sipowicz, Billy Bob, Travis, Harpoon and Thanks guys to follow and comment upon a distressing travail of well-intentioned but cockneyed, imprecise, amateurish bids at civic beautification.

    Revelation City of Fullerton may have been even partially aware, during planning and construction, a park contained poisonous substances–potentially harming children for the rest of their lives–is unconscionable, and grounds for redress against those staff members. I strongly urge elected and appointed officials to closely investigate specific circumstances which led to Fullerton being saddled with this toxic nightmare on West Truslow Avenue.

    To those who advocate City of Fullerton dispose of this tainted park, let me bring forward several points.

    It’s sad fact Fullerton suffers chronic deficit of parks and recreation in its most densely populated areas. Fullerton must do its best to offer civic benefits to ALL residents. I don’t propose moving the ‘Hood to Skyline Drive. The world is what it is; to the rich belong spoils of hard work, and to those of lower incomes and accomplishments should lie communities which motivate their children to aspire to higher stations in this free-market society in which we all live.

    Provision of parks is a way City of Fullerton can cost-effectively, democratically, address gaps between rich and poor. Without safe, green, open spaces, young people grow up physically, emotionally, intellectually stunted. I ask if any of the above-mentioned bloggers, as children, lived in neighborhoods without any green space?

    As a native New Yorker, some of my most cherished childhood memories were exploring Central Park. I don’t recommend a grandiose Fullerton Great Park, but urge its residents to consider incremental benefits from creating small spots of greenery and play which parks should provide. This neighborhood, known affectionately as Toker Town, is long overdue for more open space.

    The present situation–barricaded park, filled with homeless drifters, coke-sniffing ‘bangers and the occasional lost tourista–is sad testimony to past City Councils, staff, who didn’t do their homework, who flaunt an almost callous indifference to its lower income residents, then shrug their shoulders when they don’t get it right. Fullerton, this is unacceptable!

    Fullerton, fix this mess now! Don’t wait years for litigants to restitute damages which happened close to a century ago, FIX IT NOW! Don’t rely upon McDonald’s to open another toxic eatery in this neighborhood! Put interests of our most defenseless voiceless residents–Fullerton youth– FIRST!

    Respectfully Submitted,

    The Enabler

    P.S. NB to a Fullerton Council member who desires a dedicated Fullerton Blog, please read FFFF! We are Fullerton’s residents, its businesspeople, its voters! We are growing, and we want you to hear us!

  9. If i’m not mistaken, I believe the land was donated and not bought by the city.. don’t quote me on that one. The unfortunate thing is that the park is located in the heart of the largest gang area in Fullerton. Do we cite people at the park? Yes. Does it do any good? No. Why? Because the reality is that the people who hang out there, gang members and transients, already have criminal records and could care less about getting an open container citation, or a curfew violation. It won’t stop them from returning the next day. Here’s an idea, instead of blaming the city council for not doing anything about the Fullerton Toker’s Town area, we put some blame on the parents who allow their children to be gang members and destroy the community.

  10. Actually, Blue Devil the land was purchased from the Union Pacific. The City jumped to the front of the line by offering a bogus value “write down” that the UP could use for tax purposes. The City paid the same cash amount that a private company had already offered.

    Scam? Yes. Disaster? Yes. Accountability? What, are you joking?

  11. “Here’s an idea, instead of blaming the city council for not doing anything about the Fullerton Toker’s Town area,”

    Read the posts, Blue Devil. We’re blaming the City for buying contaminated land, building a park that nobody wanted, and now closing it after only a few years.

    This is an unmitigated disaster. But let’s not blame any public official who actually caused it. You’re kidding, I hope!

  12. OK, blue devil. I blame the parents. Now what did that solve?

    I don’t fault the city for gang problems. I blame them for using the gang problem as a tool to needlessly expand the city’s influence over everyone else. The city doesn’t generate jobs for these kids, entrepreneurs do. Get out of the way and let businesses thrive. A bustling economy is the best way to reduce gang influence in any city.

  13. Blue Devil, I was just there yesterday. There was a mother with her two kids. And a huge family having lunch. They looked like real dangerous “gangbangers”, lemme tell ya!

  14. If the people of Fullerton would access the stories of utter redevelopment failure on this blog the recall would already be over.

    Bankhead and Jones have been approving crap like this for decades. And because there was no real media reporting (remember the useless Jackie Brown and then Babs Giasone?) the dinosaurs got away with it.

    They have wasted millions (literally) on garbage recommended by incompetent department heads with no consequences.

    Time to clean house!!

  15. so what do they care, Bankhead and Jones(in spirit McKinley),its not their money. It is our hard-earned dollars disguised as tax dollars that was wasted on this dusty,barren plot of land. Economic accountability is best achieved by recalling from political office persons who don’t care about the effect these foolish goodwill projects have on the good people who do pay taxes, us.

  16. I think it’s important not to forget the skateboard park located in Independence Park near the DMV. I’m sure that it cost a fortune to build and then after deciding that it was attracting “undesireables.” the city padlocked the parking lot in March of 2010, and then declared that this portion of the park is closed due to the difficulties faced by the police trying to police the park. There are still alot of skateboarders that use this park illegally, the city just acts like they’re not there and the police look the other way and the problems and liabilty remain… they just get ignored until someone decides to suit he city.

  17. Looks like another example of the city council doing whatever it damn well pleases despite the citizens wishes.

  18. I have the perfect idea. The skateboarders where complaining at city hall about the shut down of thier park. The location in the corner of the park surprised me when it opened as being in a bad location in the back corner of some park… a location that is far from supervision of patrol and was inviting problems. Thier complaint to the city council is that every city has a nice skate park why can’t fullerton seem to get it right and have a nice park in a good area.This “toxic” area can be paved over with concrete and would make a nice central spot near the downtown for a skateboard park. Since its all concrete that would seal the ground from any toxic gasses?… hopefully.

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