Parks on the rise, tempers, too

WORKERS ASSEMBLE a picnic shelter at Garden Grove Park (OCT photo).

Whatever else that went wrong in this messy year of 2021, a few positive trends did emerge.

After long delays caused by – among other things – a snarled supply chain, park improvements and expansions are coming to the West Orange County area.

In Garden Grove, the city got $6 million from Uncle Sac(ramento) to upgrade Woodbury Park, previously one of the most dreary parks in the City of Youth and Ambition. There will be a walking trail, recreational swimming pool, picnic shelters, a skate spot and more.

Woodbury is located in an area northeast of Euclid Street and Westminster Avenue. Local historians know that part of town as Colonia Manzanillo, laid out in 1925 as a community for Mexican American agricultural workers employed in the citrus groves, vegetable farms and packing houses.

Garden Grove Park also has a rich history. During World Two it was one-half (the other part becoming Bolsa Grande High School) of a piece of land owned by Dick Haster and acquired by the U.S. Navy to use as a training airfield for planes operating out of the Los Alamitos Naval Air Station. That NAS is now the Joint Forces Training Base, one of two remaining military facilities in Orange County. The other is Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station.

After considerable waiting, modernization of that park is underway with picnic shelters now being constructed in place of their aging predecessors. New playground equipment is on the way, and more improvements after that.

More and better park facilities are being planned in Westminster, Stanton and Huntington Beach. It’s welcome news at a time when accessible open space is becoming more scarce and housing is getting denser.

Let’s go by (buy) the book

Rowdy behavior is fast becoming the norm at some public meetings, so much so that you can almost forgive those governing boards, councils and commissions who have been a bit slow to return to open in-person meetings.

Some speakers have become – in person or via Zoom – downright rude and unruly, hurling insults and (usually political) threats. At a recent meeting of the Garden Grove City Council, one speaker aggressively approached the council dais and police were summoned.

These are tense times but there’s no need to make them worse by allowing such behavior. Just about all governing bodies operate on parliamentary procedure, with Roberts’ Rules of Order the “bible” of the way meetings are to be run.

City councilmembers in some cities have been known to contribute to the general mood of uproar by interrupting each other, making accusations and otherwise turning what should be a sober exercise in democracy into a bit of a sideshow.

Therefore we recommend that every mayor or board chair/president get a crash course in spine-stiffening and decorum. The presiding officer has the power to rule a member out of order – use that gavel, Tri – or tell a speaker to avoid personal accusations and attacks or forfeit his/her/their time at the microphone.

Letting a local agency’s time be consumed by QAnon fans or personal grudges that have no end just discourages the responsible citizen from paying attention when the body convening has less order and civility than a kindergarten.

Things get out of hand when it’s allowed, and when presiding officers are either too timid or unschooled to exercise the power they have to run the public’s business like grown-ups instead of children.

“Usually Reliable Sources” is posted (usually) on an alternating basis with Jim Tortolano’s “Retorts” column.





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