Readers comments 8-28-15


Saving the trees

Dear Editor:

The August 21 viewpoint by Mark von Wodtke, regarding the tree situation in Claremont was excellent. I am afraid the city has been remiss and very short-sighted in not watering the trees. This is “The City of Trees,” yet the city has not done anything to protect the trees from the drought. Turning off the watering in the parks has led to the death of many trees already.

In the park I can see from my home, I can count at least nine trees dead and others dead on the outskirts of the school yards. What will it take for the city of Claremont to take care of the trees? Do we want the dead trees to fall over on people in the parks or children in the school yards? As the article stresses, there is no way we could ever replace the wonderful large trees in Claremont. Why is the city not taking care of them?

As residents, we have been cutting back on watering for quite a while now. The city may think cutting off watering at parks is doing that as well, but it should not be done at the expense of our trees. The city is installing drip lines on the medians on Indian Hill Boulevard, but what about the parks and the trees? I could care less about medians, but I do care about the trees. This is an emergency because the trees will soon reach a point at which they can no longer be rescued.

Mr. von Wodtke talks about TAG, the Tree Action Group, a possible Adopt a Tree program and a Claremont Tree Fund but does not say how to access any of these entities.  Can those programs be clarified for people who are interested?

Ann Bingham Newman



Save water, keep your lawn

Dear Editor:

Most of us are now all too aware of the state’s mandated water consumption reductions. We’ve heard this from the city, as well as from Golden State. This sad reality has already resulted in many hundreds of dead lawns all over town, and the plague of decomposed granite. Now for some good news.

I’ve discovered a way to keep my existing landscaping, while still exceeding the required water reduction. In fact, for the two most recent billing periods, we have reduced our water consumption by almost two-thirds versus last year. In the interest of hopefully saving some not-yet dead yards and lawns, I would like to share what I’ve learned.

Step 1, turn off the automatic sprinkler timer. Step 2, start watering by hand. Yes, I hear the groans, but stick with me for just a minute.

First, use a hose-end sprayer and walk around the yard to water those areas that need relatively less water to survive the heat, areas like succulents, bushes, shrubs, ground covers, etc. Unlike in-ground, automatic sprinklers—which typically spray a finer mist indiscriminately over a larger area, less of which, after wind and evaporation, actually lands on the intended target—walking around with a hose-end sprayer allows one to apply only the needed amount of water, and only precisely where it’s needed. In this manner, duration and quantity are closely monitored and controlled.

Second, use a hose-end sprinkler for larger areas, like lawns, which would be more laborious to cover by hand. A simple sprinkler with a couple dozen holes which spray in different directions works just fine. You don’t need anything fancier than that.

Now, attach that sprinkler to the end of your hose and place it on the lawn where needed, then turn on the water. But, and this is a big “but,” the duration of this sprinkling must be strictly controlled. If the sprinkler is left to run longer than necessary in one spot, too much water will be used and you’ll defeat the whole purpose of this approach.

For me, what works best is a small, portable timer that I can carry around with me. Immediately after turning on the water, start the timer for something like 20 minutes (adjust time based on experience). Then, the moment that timer goes off, either turn off the water, or move the sprinkler to a new location and re-start the timer immediately.

For this technique to work properly, a timer must be used assiduously in order to achieve the desired water reduction. To periodically deep water trees, use a very slow flow from the hose without the sprinkler or the sprayer, for perhaps one hour per session. And, of course, use that timer!

Bottom line, if you really want to keep your current landscaping, you can. I know, because we’ve done it. It just takes a bit of extra effort. And, who knows, you might just find the personal gardening involvement rather satisfying.

Douglas Lyon



The Oxtoby Plan

Dear Editor:

I strongly support what I shall refer to as the Oxtoby Plan for the Pomona College Museum of Art. And, while I understand the concerns of Claremont Heritage to ensure the best possible course for a project of this size, I disagree with their conclusions.

I do not agree that the bungalows currently situated on the site planned for the museum are of historical value. My cars are old, and my house is old, and I myself am old. But neither of my cars, nor my house, nor my person are of historical value. I believe the bungalows were likely intended as temporary structures of a lowly nature. It is time for them to make way for this great museum project.

I frankly do not understand what I see as an artificial device, to claim there exists a “town-and-gown friction.” As a resident of Claremont since 1976, I have always felt the several Claremont Colleges to be collectively an intrinsic and integral part of our lovely town. Indeed, since my retirement over 12 years ago, I have audited enough courses through the college-town auditing program that one of my children seriously suggested I might have used the same academic energies to finish a PhD.

As Pomona College President David Oxtoby points out,  the Colleges have “been the west of College  for many, many years.”Any suggestion that the Colleges are encroaching into other parts of the city would be disingenuous.   In fact, I actually like the way the museum as envisioned will back up to the Claremont Library, the parking lot of which as pointed out in the COURIER is actually Pomona College property. Situating the museum on property adjacent to the library seems quite natural to me, and very nice.

I also take issue with allegations that the “residential” nature of the city west of College might be diminished by having the museum on the west side of College. That might be the case were the new museum to be built on Harvard Avenue, for example, but that is not what is being considered.

I strongly believe the new arrangement, which will include moving Renwick House to the east side of College Avenue will actually enhance the residential element of that side of the street, essentially removing the concept of a “line” between “town and gown.”

I am hoping Claremont Heritage and the city of Claremont will come around, and embrace the Oxtoby Plan, and that they do so as expeditiously as possible.

Don Fisher




Doing the right things

Dear Editor:

The proposed Pomona College Museum of Art on College Avenue between Second Streeet and Bonita Avenue would be an embarrassment to Claremont. I ask that everyone involved with it stop.

Pomona College President David Oxtoby was quoted in the Claremont COURIER on August 21 stating, “We’ve been west of College Avenue for many, many years. This will not be a dramatic change.” If Mr. Oxtoby truly believes the proposed changes would “not be a dramatic change,” he must either be delusional or is lying.

There are no other college projects of this scale on the west side of College Avenue, south of the former Carnegie library. Mr. Oxtoby’s support of this project is in direct conflict with his sustainability initiatives and renovations of several historic campus buildings at the college.

The cottages and the Renwick House are just fine where they are. If Pomona College wants to improve that property, they could plant some tall foliage at the rear to block the view of the brutalism-style county library.

I have no skill in architecture nor city planning, but it also appears that the leaders of Pomona College don’t either, so we’re even. What makes us different is my belief that elimination of the residential-styled properties would violate the character and destroy the history of Claremont. It is admirable that the former homes there have been retained even though most have been converted to non-residential use. It is important that they still look like homes. Moving the Renwick house to the east side of College Avenue would make it the only one on that side and thus out of place (literally and figuratively).

Here is the real reason for the proposed location: somebody has a lot of money to put into a project and they want it to be in the most prominent location with their name on it. In contrast, the stated reasons for locating it there are weak.

If it has to be built, it should be located on First Street east of College Avenue. That would make it very accessible to bus, Metrolink and possible future Gold Line transit patrons. It could be designed in such a way that the sports fields now there could be located on the roofs of the new buildings in a green, sustainable fashion.

The bigger question for me is whether a new art museum is even needed. Pomona College has many admirable reasons to support it but they aren’t strong enough to convince me. If “certain exhibits,” mentioned by Museum Director Kathleen Howe, can’t be brought to the present facility because of heating and air issues, so be it. This is a college art museum, not a world-class gallery of masterpieces.

Instead of the historical destruction and the considerable resources that the proposed museum location would require, I suggest that the money and time be spent on further expanding the ArtStart and similar arts programs to school campuses. Schools have been reducing arts funding dramatically. This would be a great opportunity replace the cutbacks and add after-school programs on those school sites as well as fund art-related travel and scholarships for the students. Unfortunately, this practical use of the money isn’t very sexy—there wouldn’t be a big new structure with somebody’s name on it disrupting the community.

The Montgomery Art Center and Thatcher Music Hall should remain and be upgraded to modern standards. Pomona College makes a big deal out of having sustainable projects, so there is no compelling reason for them to negate the time, money, materials and pollution that went into those buildings when they were constructed—only to commit more time, money, materials and pollution to whatever replaces them.

Peter F. Drucker wrote, “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” If Pomona College cannot act like a leader by doing the right thing, then it is essential that the city council stop this project on the west side of College Avenue.

Charles Hepperle



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