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Locals Greet County Sale of 3-Acre Parcel for New Park Near Helix HS

Park at Waite Drive and Murray Hill Road will be 15th in La Mesa, but opening could be years away.

Updated at 10:50 p.m. Jan. 29, 2013

Walking home from Helix Charter High School, freshman Isaiah Linayo passes a fenced 3-acre lot with a few lush trees but mostly concrete patches and litter-strewn grass and soil.

“Actually, I thought it was a burnt-down house or something,” Isaiah said Tuesday afternoon.

In truth, the parcel near Waite Drive and Murray Hill Road in south La Mesa was used as a county maintenance and construction staging area. The Sheriff’s Department gassed up cars there as well, neighbors say.

Tuesday morning, the county Board of Supervisors unanimously approved sale of the surplus land to La Mesa for eventual use as a park—the 15th within city borders.

Supervisor Dianne Jacob called the sale good news for the county and La Mesa.

“The city and the county both agreed a long time ago that we’d like for this small piece of property to be able to be utilized as a park, so the city has wanted it for a long time,” Jacob said.

“Hopefully now the youth and the adults in the community will be as excited as I am to finally see the sale go through, and for the city of La Mesa to be able to build a park there for the people in the area.”

Monica Feijo, who lives across the street, was delighted.

“That would be so nice,” said Feijo, 34, who grew up in Brazil and has rented her Waite Drive home for seven months. “I hope that it will be a beautiful park.”

Bill Monahan, a 30-year resident who lives a mile away, was driving to Home Depot when he stopped at Waite and Murray Hill and shared his reactions.

“I think it’s a great idea,” said Monahan, a Senior Olympian in his late 50s who competes in several sports. He said he might do some training there, but otherwise “kick back and have fun.”

Bradley Mensell, another Helix freshman, walked by the lot Tuesday with Isaiah and said he might “just hang out and do my homework” at the park.

It might be college homework, however.  The park is years from use.

Assistant City Manager Yvonne Garrett told Patch that it would be quite some time before the unnamed park opens to the public.

“There will probably be nothing done for a period of time,” Garrett said. “We have repurposed more parks than we’ve opened new parks in recent years. It’s premature to determine a timeline right now. At this point, we'd like to complete some of the other parks projects we have under way.”

Garrett said the last new park opened in La Mesa was Briercrest Park in 2005.

At this point, she said, the city has no specific plans for what the new park a block north of state Route 94 would feature.

The city’s involvement has been limited to the City Council taking action to approve the purchase, she said.

The county acquired the property in 1915 for the Department of Public Works to use as the Lemon Grove Maintenance Station, which was closed 17 years ago. It was then used only as a temporary construction staging area, the county said said.

Underground storage tanks were removed and soil contamination was discovered when the road station closed, but cleanup work was completed and the site was monitored semi-annually, officials said.

The county Department of Environmental Health completed the site review and closed its case file in December 2011, according to the county.

An independent appraisal recently assessed the property’s market value at $650,000, and earlier this month, the La Mesa City Council approved the purchase for a neighborhood park.

The sale’s net proceeds will go toward the Department of Public Works Road Fund, county officials said.

Feijo, the neighbor across the street, was giving her black Labrador Chaika some air Tuesday afternoon, and was happy about the park for utilitarian reasons.

She’d like it to have trash cans—so dog owners have a place to deposit bags of droppings.

—City News Service contributed to this report.

Helen Ofield January 30, 2013 at 06:05 PM
In the meantime, once the land is officially La Mesa territory, can the La Mesa Foundation institute a regular clean-up by volunteers to keep the area looking presentable while park plans are drafted? The land was once part of Lemon Grove and the Lemon Grove Historical Society cares, as much as does our fine sister society in La Mesa.
David W. January 30, 2013 at 08:01 PM
A nice to new park for our resident gang bangers to convene at night. Nice.
Jimmy Sanders January 30, 2013 at 08:11 PM
There is only 8 known gangs in Lemon Grove as of a couple years ago. I'm sure the police will keep them under control! http://www.kpbs.org/news/2010/oct/06/north-county-comes-grips-gang-problems/
James Davis January 30, 2013 at 08:32 PM
Classy David. You do realize that gang bangers would actually have to walk up a hill to get to the park from Lemon Grove. You give them far too much credit :)
Super Terrific Response February 01, 2013 at 06:46 AM
What is sad, John, is that lazy do-nothings like you won't lift a finger to benefit any park in the city let alone this future park.

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