Readers comments 8-14-15
CHS jazz band director
Back in June, the Claremont COURIER reported that Claremont High School Jazz Band director, Mr. Rick Melanson, was removed from his position pending a criminal court proceeding on child annoyance charges.
I was therefore quite surprised when no follow-up article was printed to inform the community that on July 15, 2015 the case against Mr. Melanson was dismissed.
Also, on August 6, 2015 the Claremont Unified School District (CUSD) Board of Education unanimously voted in support of reinstating Mr. Melanson to his position, and that the State of California has fully reinstated his teaching credentials.
In our country, individuals are innocent until proven guilty. When Mr. Melanson was accused of impropriety, the COURIER made sure readers were made aware of it. But when Mr. Melanson was cleared of all charges, no mention was made of this important development. I am writing to encourage students, teachers and parents to join with our school board in fully supporting Rick Melanson’s well-deserved return to the classroom.
My son, Douglas, studied with Mr. Melanson for nearly half of his 12 years as a CUSD student. He considers Mr. Melanson to be the single most positive influence on his academic and musical career. He credits Mr. Melanson with instilling in him a passion for jazz music and the discipline needed to succeed—not only in music, but in life.
As a direct result of Mr. Melanson’s influence, my son formed his own jazz band combo with other CHS jazz students (Going Down Swingin’) and performed with friends at paid engagements throughout Los Angeles and Orange County during his senior year at CHS. Sadly, Mr. Melanson never had the opportunity to see his senior students perform, as he was tied up with legal proceedings to prove his innocence.
The lessons my son learned from Mr. Melanson, and the disciplined approach to the study of music that Mr. Melanson brought to the classroom enabled Douglas to have the tools and the confidence to audition and successfully secure a spot in a NCAA Division I music program at Texas A & M University this fall.
I have also worked closely with Mr. Melanson during the past six years, during four of which I served as Instrumental Music Booster president. I want parents and students to know that Mr. Melanson brings an extraordinary passion and music background that is rare to find in a high school level program. He is professional, talented, engaging and cares deeply about his students as individuals and collectively as an ensemble. He works diligently to build their sense of self as young adults both in and out of the classroom and performance venues. Claremont is fortunate to have a jazz director with his qualifications and character.
Sadly, despite the fact that the judicial system ran its full and complete course, and all charges against Mr. Melanson were dismissed, there are still some in our community who refuse to accept this judgment. I encourage Claremont students, teachers and parents to pay them no heed. Our students, our schools and our music program have been, and will continue to be, well-served by Mr. Rick Melanson.
Pomona master plan rebuttal
In a?July 10 letter to the editor from Pomona College’s Richard Fass—a response to the viewpoint previously submitted by me and John Neiuber—Mr. Fass stated that the viewpoint “contains a number of misstatements about the college’s previous master plans.”
He mainly objects to our statement, “A 2008 Pomona College master plan concept shows institutional buildings where the Victorians are currently located [on Harvard].” The date was incorrect. We apologize. The date of the Master Plan concept was 2003, but it makes little difference. We did not say that it was an adopted master plan but that it was a concept, which Mr. Fass acknowledges. Whether or not it was part of the 2008 update approved by the city is again a moot point. Regardless of it being approved or being official or whatever spin one puts to it, the concepts portrayed in this drawing appear to be coming true.
The rendering from 12 years ago shows a new building footprint that is identical to what is currently being presented for the new Thatcher Music Building that will replace the Montgomery Art Center and the existing Thatcher building. Both are planned to be demolished.
It shows a new building at the same location and with a similar footprint to what is currently being proposed for the new art museum on the west side of College Avenue between Second Street and Bonita.
It also shows two new institutional buildings where there are currently four historic Victorian houses on Harvard, and a new institutional building where there is currently parking where Harrison Avenue was closed off. This is interesting from the standpoint that Pomona College’s current proposed master plan has been under development for over a decade and they have slowly been undertaking the projects shown in these early concepts, whether part of an approved master plan or not. There appears to be an underground, less transparent, master plan at work here.
The other “misstatement” Mr. Fass objected to concerns the Claremont General Plan map (Figure 2-3 Land Use Plan) that shows the proposed site of the new museum listed as “institutional.” However, this map describes the types of uses as “existing and planned.” The site in question is currently zoned residential, and Pomona College currently uses the residential-scale houses located there for institutional uses through an agreement with the city. Locating an institutional building here with the mass and scale as presented by Pomona would destroy the historic residential feeling and be in direct opposition to the community values that are outlined in Claremont’s General Plan.
In addition, the parking, which is already impacted in the Village, will become much worse, but the college has not addressed this potential impact.
I also want to acknowledge something. Claremont Heritage is not opposed to a new museum—in fact, we welcome it! We are only concerned with the proposed location. Pomona College was part of Claremont’s history from the very beginning and has been a major influence on what our town is today.
Claremont’s history of preserving our cultural, natural and architectural heritage is what sets us apart from other communities. Pomona acknowledges these values by desiring to return its campus design to the ideals that were originally planned by noted architect Myron Hunt. This is where there seems to be a disconnect of sorts. By proposing a large-scale institutional building on the block between Second Street and Bonita on the west side of College Avenue and moving the iconic Renwick House from its historical location, Pomona will in effect destroy the historic residential feeling that is part of its own legacy.
Please, Pomona College, do the right thing for the Colleges, the community and our heritage. Relocate the museum elsewhere.
Our dried-up public spaces
About a year ago, my husband and I sold our four-bedroom home in north Claremont and purchased a townhouse in the Village. We wanted to raise our two small children in a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood with lots of active, communal space nearby. We feel strongly about the value of shared space due to its community-building properties as well as its overall efficiency. For the first couple of months, we enjoyed walking to the parks and hanging out around the Public Plaza fountains to cool off. With the new water restrictions, nearly all of these places have become deserted and unwecoming.
The fountains were turned off and even the grassy areas surrounding local playgrounds disappeared. I still walk through the Village in the mornings and pass all of the lush, green swaths of lawn, but I no longer hang out in the parks or the Plaza because it’s just not enjoyable for my kids anymore. I guess I was expecting a city that values its community space so much as to rally behind preserving these spaces while sacrificing our personal ones. Clearly, I was wrong.
Nowadays, I pack up my two kids and drive to neighboring cities to cool off and relax. I never expected to have to leave Claremont to seek out those places. Please don’t get me wrong, I am all about water conservation and have been for years.
The house we sold was completely landscaped with drought-tolerant plants well before it was trendy. “Brown is the new green” is a motto I have touted on countless occasions. However, I believe it is important to preserve places that are highly used and valued by the community. One such place is the fountains in the Public?Plaza. Like most other fountains, they recycle water. By shutting them off completely, did we really save that much water? Or were we doing so just to make a point? Instead of walking two blocks so my kids can cool off in a space used by tons of kids, I am driving 10 miles so that my kids can cool off at a splash pad elsewhere or filling up a baby pool at my house that will have to be dumped out after being used by just two kids.
Here is an idea: Can we get some local businesses that seem reluctant to let go of their lawns to “sponsor” lost spaces by removing their ornamental grass? The city can then utilize the water for community space. That would be something I would expect from the Claremont I love.