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Goleta Moving Forward with Old Town Park Despite Property Ownership Concerns

The council also appoints Terence Dressler and Eric Onnen to the Planning Commission, and decides to sponsor a community dinner event

The City of Goleta is moving forward with a neighborhood park at Hollister and Kellogg avenues even though the property is still technically owned by the now-defunct Redevelopment Agency. The City Council on Tuesday approved a contract for an environmental review of the 4-acre parcel, which is planned to have a field, a playground and a picnic area.

Mayor Roger Aceves said he was uncomfortable with putting more money into the future park when the city doesn’t own the land yet, since the state Department of Finance hasn’t decided what to do about the transfer request. The city is trying to transfer the property from the RDA to the city and has already received $910,000 in state grant money toward the project.

Councilwoman Paula Perotte said the city needs to show it’s serious about the park and move forward, even with the transfer concerns.

The other council members — Ed Easton recused himself since he lives in Old Town — voted to award a $250,000 contract for a design and environmental review to Van Atta Associates.

“We’re also entering litigation with the state on this topic, and we can’t know the outcome right now, so there is some risk in moving forward and spending funds,” City Manager Dan Singer said.

The environmental review is expected to go before the Planning Commission in August.

The council decided to sponsor a community dinner event at the Lake Los Carneros dam. The idea came about after a workshop in March where citizens brainstormed new traditions.

The Aug. 24 dinner is being organized by the Goleta Valley Historical Society, the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce, the Goleta Valley Community Center and the Goleta Valley Senior Center. Dinner on top of the dam will be open to the public with food and drinks for sale.

Council members appointed two new members to the Planning Commission as well, since Bill Shelor moved on to the Design Review Board and Jonny Wallis is recovering from a stroke. Nominations for appointments rotate among the council members.

Easton appointed Terence Dressler, with the understanding that he will step down once Wallis is capable of serving. The city’s ordinances have no stipulation for a temporary appointment, so Dressler will have full powers of a commissioner, Easton said.

“I’ll do my best to step into her shoes,” Dressler said after being sworn in.

Councilman Jim Farr appointed Eric Onnen, former councilman and mayor, even though “philosophically Eric and I are not peas in a pod,” he said. “He is an intelligent, thoughtful man who cares deeply about this city.”

“I know both gentlemen very well,” Aceves said, “and they’ll represent the city very well.”

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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