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Ideas abound as city gets feedback on park master plan

Claremont residents were given the opportunity to engage with the city on the specifics of the Claremont Hills Wilderness Park master plan Monday evening.

The event was an effort to inform residents about the future of the park and an opportunity for public comment. Held at Taylor Hall, it was structured as an open forum, with tables dedicated to each part of the master plan set up around the hall’s perimeter.

Claremont Public Information Officer Bevin Handel praised the nontraditional format. “We’re hoping it gets more of a dialog going,” Ms. Handel said.

The event centered on the Claremont Wildlands Conservancy’s response to the city’s massive master plan for the CHWP. In a packet sent out prior to the meeting, the CWC outlined what they agreed and disagreed with in the plan.

For the majority of the response, the CWC agreed with the city plan, including enhanced public outreach, creating a “friends of the CHWP” group and restricting parking along the south end of Via Padova.

However, there were a few issues the CWC had with the master plan, namely the city’s recommendation to change the name from the Claremont Hills Wilderness Park to the Claremont Hills Wilderness Area. According to CWC president Lissa Petersen, it makes no sense to rename the park to an area, claiming the existing structures around the CHWP designate it as a park.

Also at odds with the CWC was the city’s suggestion to raise the 4-hour daily parking fee from $3 to $5 and the annual fee from $100 to $140.

“If prices are raised, there will be more low-income people from the region who come to the park regularly who will find it much harder to use the park,” CWC President Lissa Petersen said. “So when we support access, raising the fees limits access.”

Claremont Assistant City Manager Colin Tudor claimed raising the prices for access to the park is a necessity to maintain the features of the park, including turnstiles, restrooms and park rangers’ paychecks.

“We were looking at how we can drive more revenue so we have enough money to pay for these enhancements on an ongoing basis,” Mr. Tudor said.

Throughout the event, Claremonters were encouraged to engage with city representatives who were stationed at each booth. Comment cards from Claremonters, were filled out and given to city officials for further review.

“We’re going to take all the comments back and start looking at them, evaluating what we can go through,” Mr. Tudor said. “We’ve got a lot of really good comments, a lot of insightful ideas and we want to go back and see what we can change to make it a better plan.”

This is the third community meeting involving the master plan, another step forward in crafting a concrete blueprint that, according to the city and the CWC, is meant to last at least 20 years.

Matthew Bramlett

news@claremont-courier.com

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