Our City bureaucrats want to waste $2,000,000 in public funds to build a trail from Highland Avenue to Independence Park along the old Union Pacific right-of-way. The idea they say, is to link the Transportation Center to “parks.”Of course we all know that the existing “trail” east of Highland doesn’t even make it to the Transportation Center, and is deficient as a multimodal facility; and we know that the Poison Park that nobody outside City Hall ever wanted is a moribund, attractive nuisance with such a sketchy history that the City has fenced it off for 15 years.
And recently a murder occurred at the end of the so-called trail, raising legitimate questions about the safety of future trail users, if there are any.
One of our critics has tenaciously clung to the theory that a trail will attract users, thereby mitigating the safety issues along this swath of industrial buildings, junk yards, cut-rate auto related businesses, metal plating and asphalt concerns. Naturally our critic, like all knee-jerk liberals applied some theory to a practical situation he knew nothing about.
And so, Friends, I am sharing some current images of the right-of-way, to illustrate the idiocy of building a rec trail through this area. Enjoy
This is getting tiresome. The other day, another one.
Somebody found with a guy with a fatal stab wound; this time the location of the corpus delicti was discovered at the Fullerton dog park next to the former Hunt Branch Library. The cops say the stabbing occurred around one o’clock in the morning, meaning that probably somebody else, presumably not the killer, was hanging around the pooch park in the middle of the night, too. Apparently, none of these good citizens understood that Fullerton parks and trails close at sundown.
Well, that’s three stabbing deaths in the past month or so. A casual observer might almost perceive a trend. But I’m not going to rush to any irresponsible conclusions.
It is somewhat ironic that this crime was committed at what our Parks staff believes will someday be a spot on their expensive recreation trail gamble through Fullerton’s no-man’s land. Let’s let Parks “Deputy Director” Alice Loya remind us in a May 2021 staff report:
“…linking the Transportation Center and several parks, including Independence Park at its terminus. This proposed trail aligns with the Hunt Branch Library to the west, providing potential future linkages.”
If we simply discount all the lies in those two sentences, we can discern, besides a comfortably compulsive prevaricator named Alice Loya, a city government unable to attend to existing facilities in this troubled area of Fullerton; and yet possessed of the mindset that remains the same: double down on previously wasted resources and continue the march forward. After all, it’s only other people’s money.
Sometime on Sunday night or early Monday morning a man was stabbed to death on the old Union Pacific right-of-way where it crosses Harbor Boulevard.
The cops are investigating the crime to see if they can figure out who’s who and what’s what. The Friends may draw their own conclusions as to the likelihood of a successful investigation. Fortunately a building owner has equipped himself with surveillance video cameras that captured the grisly death of the victim. Maybe the FPD can make something out of it.
I think this would be an excellent time to consider the site of the murder – one end of the desolate strip where our crack parks staff wants to spend two million bucks on a “recreation trail,” because…well, just because. Naturally all the patronizing lefties want to describe the idea of a linear park as just the ticket to revitalize the industrial uses on either side; something “nice” for south Fullerton.
Once you bother to peel back all that nonsense, the reality stares back at you: this is no place for anybody to be wandering around, especially kiddies, females and the unarmed. Of course our staff and City Council deal in abstractions, having accepted the grant money there will undoubtedly be bureaucratic lust to waste it – somebody else’s money. I seriously doubt if any of them have even bothered to walk along this strip, especially at night, to see that the idiot gesture of putting a trail there wouldn’t result in anything “nice” at all.
Yes, Friends, the Union Pacific Park (also known in Fullerton as the Poison Park) the project cynically foisted on the residents of the Truslow Avenue neighborhood by City Hall, is still in the news.
Some of our City Council wants you to overlook the 20-year history of dangerous incompetence, indifference and insulting condescension this dead patch of land symbolizes. Instead they want to pretend to give a damn about the residents and their wants and needs; and they want us to believe they are sincere.
In the latest go-round 5th District Councilman Ahmad Zahra agendized, with the concurrence of 3rd District Councilman Jesus Silva, the topic of holding community meetings to discuss with la communidad what to do about the park. This was very strange, very illogical and very disingenuous of these two twits, given the fact that the two of them only a couple of months ago tried to cram a gated private events center, masquerading as an aquaponics farm on the site. These two worthy gentlemen never bothered asking anybody about the impact of this idea from noise to parking issues on Truslow, so it’s reasonable to conclude that Zahra and Quirk-Silva don’t give a shit about the people in the neighborhood and were just playing games.
1st District Councilman Fred Jung interceded, suggesting that an ad hoc committee be set up to talk about ideas for the park; and this is a blessing. The idea of letting parks staff, the same incompetent boobs who have made an embarrassing mess out of this site, guide sham meetings is appalling. The rest of the Council with the predictable exception of the hypocritical Zahra, agreed to Jung’s motion.
Well, here’s some advice to this committee, when, and if it is actually appointed and meets: let somebody who has real ideas and who can put this site into the larger context of surrounding industrial land take a swing at this disaster zone. Fullerton Parks staff will only condemn the Poison Park to another 20 years of abandonment and decay.
Yes, Friends you heard that right. In the long history of official misfeasance regarding the ill-fated “Union Pacific Park” we’ve seen stupidity, indifference, lack of accountability waste, more stupidity. A project that nobody in the community wanted, but that a fun thing for Parks Director Susan Hunt to play with, and for Redevelopment Monopoly bucks to buy, has been a humiliation for everybody involved; or should be, except that bureuacrats in Fullerton have no shame and no rear-view mirror.
But now we discover, courtesy of a 19 year-old document, something a lot more nefarious than just the usual City Hall incompetence. Consider the following letter written to local property owner Tony Bushala, from then Redevelopment flunky, Ken O’Leary.
Here’s a smoking gun. The City had already purchased contaminated property, not bothering to employ a Phase 2 environmental assessment. And they knew that the perp was already cleaning up contamination “in the vicinity.” And yet the City proceeded building a park knowing that soils contamination was an issue surrounding the park, and evidently not giving damn whether their own soil was contaminated. So the park was built for well over a million bucks, then Lo and Behold – the park, by now renamed “Union Pacific Park,” was contaminated too. It was fenced off from the junkies and homeless and borachos that haunted it.
Naturally O’Leary is long gone, as is his boss, the ever-hapless Gary Chalupsky. Gone too are bungling bureaucrats Hunt, F. Paul Dudley, Bob Hodson, and former City Manager, Jim Armstrong, all enjoying six-figure pensions courtesy of you, me, and the people of the communidad who never wanted a park at all.
And now it seems the death march is to continue. Only recently City staff cooked up a lame scheme to put a private event center on the site, masquerading as an “educational” aquaponics farm. This hare-brained idea was ardently supported by Jesus Quirk Silva and Ahmad Zahra, two councilmen immune to common sense; and these two now, all of a sudden, want to start a whole new process to find out what the “community” wants, just like Susan Hunt did over 20 years ago.
You have to hand it to government bureaucracies. They never give up on stupid ideas. But why should they? With all the time in world, huge amounts of money given to them by others, and with zero accountability, what is there for them to lose?
Specifically, I am talking about an item on the May 4th Agenda, dutifully approved by the City Council, to take $1.8 million in State grant money and $330,000 in Fullerton park money to design and build what they are pleased to call The Union Pacific Trail, Phase II.
Of course we all know that Phase I was a total waste of money – a weird “equestrian trail” (complete with pony railing) that has never seen a horse, that was attached to the poisoned and fenced off UP Park that dies a merciful death at Highland Avenue.
Our crack Deputy Parks Director, some person named Alice Loya pitched the item to a less than bedazzled Council, making sure to point out that the area was disadvantaged, an irony certainly lost on City bureaucrats whose job it has been to un-disadvantage this neighborhood over the past 50 years.
Let me share a paragraph from the staff report, that, as usual, is so full of lies to rationalize the scheme that one wonders if the City staff would ever pursue this nonsense if they had to use City funds to pay for it:
The proposed project will transform an existing 50 to 80 foot wide, blighted corridor into a greenbelt trail providing alternate transportation, linking the Transportation Center and several parks, including Independence Park at its terminus. This proposed trail aligns with the Hunt Branch Library to the west, providing potential future linkages. The total cost of the project is estimated at $2.1 million.
Lie Number One: Alternative transportation? What the Hell does that even mean? Walking?
Lie Number Two: the trail would not link anything to the Transportation Center since it would terminate at a narrow sidewalk behind the Ice House that includes a 90 degree turn. And of course just a week ago, or so, our very same staff tried to sneak through an idiot scheme to cut off the UP right-of-way completely with their private event center on the Poisoned Park site.
Lie Number Three: the proposed extension does not link “several” parks. It would indeed terminate at the Independence Park parking lot but the only other “park” it would touch is the fenced off Poisoned Park that nobody even wants.
Almost as good as a lie Number Four: the proposed trail would be virtually impossible to link to the “aligned” Hunt Branch Library, nearly a mile away, because gosh darn it, the rail siding is still being used by…the railroad. But what the Hell let’s throw out the chimera of “connectivity” to fool the dopes on the City Council, right? It’s always worked just fine in the past.
Almost as good as a lie Number Five: when has the City ever built anything on time and on budget? That proposed cost would sky rocket, of course, as Fullerton’s army of staff, consultants, and design professionals hump the “greenbelt” into submission. Remember the wooden steps at Hillcrest Park and the elevator-from-Hell at the Depot?
But what wasn’t said was much more important than the propaganda ink spilled to promote this idiocy:nobody will use this “trail” since it passes through sketchy industrial zoned property, completely empty at night, and would remain, just like it is now, an attractive nuisance that the taxpayers will be on the hook to maintain out of the General Fund.
On the bright side, members of the new Council commonsense majority pointed out that Staff was already devising a top-secret Specific Plan for the area, and gee, wouldn’t it make sense not to piecemeal things like Planning Director Matt Foulkes tried to do on the ill-fated aquaponic farm/event center? They did treat the item as still very provisional, but FFFF knows better – we know that government money once available, will be spent, most likely on something nobody outside City Hall wants.
Naturally, Councilman-in-search-of-camera-opportunity, Ahmad Zahra scrounged up some of his usual misguided acolytes to beat the drum for this utter waste of $2.1 million bucks. After all, this project would be mostly paid for with “free money” of the sort “progressives” love to accept, then waste. We need look no further than the $1,000000 Core and Corridors Specific Plan, paid for by the State Sustainability Commission, that was quietly abandoned, never to see the light of day. And ironically, the old UP Right of Way passes right through the middle of two of the C&C Specific Plan Areas, suggesting to me, at lest, that the City is not, and never has been interested in the well-being of the part of Fullerton accept as something to play with.
The funny thing about this is the obvious attempt to cover ground lost to Cho’s opponent, Fred Jung, on the open space issue. Cho has been repeatedly hit by Fullerton Taxpayers For Reform as a puppet of overdevelopment lobbyist Jennifer Fitzgerald, our departing Mayor-for-Hire who has her fingerprints all over every apartment prison block built in Fullerton over the past 8 years.
Back on August 18th, out esteemed City Council began the process of declaring a strip of property along Bastanchury Road to be “surplus.”
The vote was 4-1 with Bruce Whitaker in opposition.
The obvious purpose of this strategy is to to sell the property to an affordable housing developer so that the politicians can feel good about themselves and maybe raise some fundraising dough. For Mayor Jennifer Fitzgerald this most likely means a lobbying opportunity after December when her presence on the council will mercifully come to an end. Why? Because developer selection and rezoning can be budged along by Pringle and Associates on whose street corner Fitzgerald plies her trade.
But not everybody is happy and there is an election in a month.
The locals on the hills behind the proposed development naturally object, as do environmentally-minded people who want the site preserved as opens space. The locals have even come up with a website and are advertising their displeasure with the City Council.
And naturally this has become a sudden election year issue for the District 1 council seat. Fred Jung has already made his position known that he prefers the open space option. On the other hand, his opponent, Andrew Cho, was hand-picked by Fitzgerald to have a reliable vote on the council. But not only is Fitzgerald gone this fall, but so is her pal Jan Flory which means that after the election there could be three potential votes to save this site as open space.
The Council passed this item with the usual “this is only the first step in the process” bullshit that begins the process of cloaking another hot mess in the mantle of inevitability. For the folk of District 1, however, the story may take a different turn than the City house-acrats and politicians are hoping for.
And so we ventured out on a proactive foot patrol to see what effect the intervening eighteen months may have had on this dismal boondoggle. What we found was not shocking, for our sense of shock at the ineptitude of our City’s park and engineering departments dissipated years ago.
The structure is noticeably creaking, treads are wobbly and handrails are coming loose. This barely two-year old ramshackle pile of lumber is showing unmistakable signs of decrepitude and neglect. Its creators have moved on to new ventures.
What did we find?
Uncorrected code violations like tread width? Check.
Failed irrigation? Check.
Uncontrolled erosion? Check.
Risk management potential? Check.
No correction of substandard design and construction? Check.