Readers comments 10-2-15

Memory lane

Dear Editor:

There was an admirable article in the September 18 COURIER about CHS Principal Brett O’Connor reminding students to show courtesy to the visiting Damien High School football team and fans. Also, the Los Angeles Times wrote an article about God and the outcome of games.

It brought back memories of my high school football experience in the late 1950s. Those were pre-Damien years when, at Pomona Catholic High School, we played against teams like Mater Dei. Game preparation included saying the rosary to be certain “God was on our side.”

I also recall chanting “Kill Mater Dei” and “beat Mater Dei” at rallies of nice Catholic boys and girls. (Mater Dei is Latin translated to “Mother of God.”)

In retrospect, it’s no wonder we tied once and lost twice, considering our ironic desire to kill and beat God’s mother.

Patrick Kelly



Questions of ownership

Dear Editor:

I walked around the Village again this morning. I realized I have a lot of suppositions about property around here.

I remember the flap about the Hahn Building at Harrison and Harvard, and that the land was to be left as an urban forest by the owners of that property in their will. So did there have to be a change in zoning to build a school structure there, let alone any structure at all? What’s the zoning on the sports lot at First and Harvard? Does college ownership preclude a zoning change necessity? And the cottages on the west side of College Avenue are both college property and zoned residential, I guess. Does the whole block have to be re-zoned? Do we vote on re-zoning?

There are four period houses on the east side of Harvard between Shelton Park and Fourth Street. These are supposedly college-owned and house College personnel—as well as the one house on Fourth around the corner. But they must be city- zoned for residential, I suppose.

I’ve also heard that whenever there is a house for sale near the Village, the Colleges are the usual and top bidders and there is a lot of residential property that is college-owned dotting the town. Where do zoning rights stop for the city of Claremont? What goes over the line? Is this business about the new Museum of Art due to pop up on the west side of College just a zoning change away from happening? And if it happens, how far into the Village does it ultimately go? Last wills didn’t seem to stop Hahn from rising.

I’m really torn between charming cityhood and the thrill of watching a new building go up on the campuses. Who’s running out of room—charming city or fabulous college architecture? Guess they need a new art venue with all the newest conservation bells and whistles, but that’s their problem. Why does it have to be the problem of the city? Do they own that much property in the Village?

Helen Feller



Climate observations

Dear Editor:

In my letter of September 18, I described the unusual sight of snow on the summit of Mt. Baldy while the temperature in the valley was 102 degrees.

“What Climate Change?” was a farcical question based on my incredulity that anyone could possibly believe that something isn’t amiss when it snows in September here in Claremont. A little irony is a dangerous thing!

I appreciate Professor Trent’s observations and fully realize that anecdotal evidence observed on the local scale does not make the case for global climate change.

However, I do believe that it is through the observation of small anomalies—a fruit tree blooming weeks earlier than ever before, the thinning of ice on a local pond or snow in September—that we as individuals come to accept the validity of climate change. Such evidence is not strictly scientific but it may be the “proof” that eventually stirs millions of Americans to action because they can see the consequences in their own community.

Mark Merritt



Thank you, Roger Samuel

Dear Editor:

This is a posthumous thank you to Roger Samuel of Claremont, our very own extraordinary musician, director, conductor and founder of the Claremont Youth Symphony Orchestra.

After attending his services a few weeks ago, and finding no other information about Roger in the weeks following, I feel compelled to write this letter to thank him and to let Claremonters know of Roger’s dedication to the youth in our town and in the region.

It was in the 1970s that we met Roger, when one of our daughters wanted to learn to play the French horn. Roger took our second grader and taught her the magic and pleasure of playing the brass instrument; our other daughter was playing her small violin.

Sometime in the early 1980s, Roger started the Claremont Youth Symphony Orchestra. Gary Ida, music director at Claremont High School, helped secure the band room at CHS for rehearsals each week. Roger started this group with only string instruments. Auditions were held and string players were selected not only from Claremont, but from surrounding counties. Parents were committed to driving the distance to Claremont for weekly rehearsals. This was a new concept for area young musicians ages 8 to 20. After a year or two, Roger added the brass sections and percussion to the Youth Orchestra. Yes, the French horn student passed the audition and joined her violinist sister.

The beginning years included a concert or two at Little Bridges and at least one opportunity annually to play a concert with the adults in the Claremont Symphony. Roger added the Village Venture to the venue for the young musicians. I still remember each Village Venture included young musicians playing on Harvard or Yale Avenue for the entire day. And Roger was always there, directing the ensemble. The Village Venture performances continued for 20 to 30 years.

As years passed, and musicians graduated and went off to college, the yearly auditions continued to find more musicians. The group grew and grew to resemble a true Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra.

Roger—with his wife Janet ever at his side helping—planned and executed numerous opportunitites for his young, large group of musicians. They even had occasions to play with the Los Angles Philharmonic Orchestra. I could close my eyes at the concert and believe the adult musicians were playing. The group was, and is, that accomplished.

During later years, Roger arranged for the group to travel to Europe to perform with Philharmonics from other countries. What an experience for the young musicians! I do not remember how many years have passed—maybe 30 to 25 from the onset of the string ensemble—but I do remember that Roger spent week after week after week, dedicated to searching for performance opportunities and directing our youth to perfect their talents.

I sometimes wondered why Claremont never recognized our own wonderful volunteer who dedicated decades to our youth, and at least had he and his wife Janet lead a Fourth of July parade. Sometimes recognition comes too late.

As a thankful parent, I just want to say, “Thank you, Roger!”

Joyce Sauter



Has VW forfeited its rights?

Dear Editor:

The recent news that Volkswagen, now the world’s largest auto manufacturer, has been intentionally and systematically defrauding both the consumers of our state and the laws of our state by installing software to defeat anti-pollution measures is truly appalling.

These clearly intentional acts set this particular big business wrongdoing apart and separate from GM’s and Toyota’s recent screw ups. 

VW may defend itself by saying, in effect, “Well, no one died because of these actions.” If so, this should be rejected out of hand. In an era of massive climate change and the imperative that we move beyond carbon as quickly as possible, these actions by VW must be seen in the larger context of the struggle to shift from polluting to clean forms of personal transportation. 

In fact, VW, the damage you have done is not only to your reputation, but also to the integrity of the entire environmental movement. The disrespect VW has shown for our laws and the importance we place on a livable state make this a special case for California.

Should VW be allowed to get away with it? Should just some monetary fines and penalties be enough? I say no.  We should not waste this opportunity to show ourselves and the world that California intends to be a global leader in the clean tech and renewable energy fields. 

In this instance, we should make an example of VW and ban this corporation from doing all business in California in the future. In effect, this would be a death sentence for VW in California, something they have earned and justly deserve.

Peter L. Coye



Wilderness park master plan

Dear Editor:

I grew up in a small Midwest town. Like most small towns throughout America, the business district was deserted almost every weekday.

I remember just a few years ago we were passing through one of the bigger towns in Wyoming on “Sidewalk Day,” and even though most of the stores had tables on the sidewalk, the place was eerily quiet with hardly a shopper in sight. In contrast, some towns in the US  are more fortunate. They are located near a big attraction like a national park or seashore, and their businesses are bustling with customers.

It is amazing to me to see Claremont’s vibrant business district with so many people that it is difficult to find a parking space almost any day of the week. The scene is far different in neighboring cities. I’m sure there are multiple factors that create such a successful downtown, but I have a sense that few people in Claremont appreciate the fact that our town also has a major attraction, one that results in about 500,000 visits a year. This, of course, is the Claremont Hills Wilderness Park.

If only 10 percent of these park visits result in someone patronizing a Claremont business, that would amount to 50,000 shoppers and diners a year. There are hundreds of small towns that would be delighted if they had an attraction that would generate as many patrons for their businesses. This is why it is so important that the city create a master plan that, among other things, continues to encourage users to visit the park. It is good for the city as a whole. It seems odd that we haven’t had much input from the Claremont businesses with regards to the master plan.

As a board member of the Claremont Wildlands Conservancy for the past year, I have been intimately involved with the process of creating the city’s master plan for the park. I have attended many meetings of our group, TAC meetings and neighborhood discussions. I also spent several hours helping to survey park users last summer. I frequently hike in the park and have read all of the letters written to the COURIER.

There have been countless discussions about parking, preserving the environment, funding, bikers versus hikers, the need for restrooms and a myriad of other issues, all of which are important. But while the city is trying to assess the countless details involved in the creation of the master plan, it seems that nobody wants to step back and take an overall look at the positive impact the park has on Claremont as a whole.

It is possible that decisions made by the city council concerning the wilderness park could have implications affecting the prosperity of Claremont. For example, the city’s proposal in the draft master plan to raise parking fees to $10 on weekend mornings might have a serious negative impact on how many people from out of town visit the park. This “Congestion Pricing Program,” which is designed to redistribute visits, may have the unintended consequence of actually discouraging visitors instead of “redistributing” them.

It’s unfortunate that when surveys were done of park users, there were no questions designed to gauge how many people visited Claremont businesses before or after hiking or biking in the park.

If decisions about park fees are primarily based upon the desire to placate those Claremonters who would discourage visitors to the park, those decisions may have harmful consequences for the city as a whole. It would be far better to first gather data concerning the economic impact park users have on the city and then make decisions about pricing rather than create policies with unknown consequences.

It is also important to point out that if the park continues to draw large numbers of regional users, especially from underserved communities, it may be very helpful in the future when attempting to qualify for valuable grants to expand the park and to implement the resource management plan proposed in the draft.

Finally, at the present time, the parking fees generate about $350,000 a year, which represents the bulk of the funds that support management of the park. We must be careful not to put this current cash flow in jeopardy so that we have adequate funds to properly maintain the park.

The Claremont Hills Wilderness Park is an extremely valuable asset for our community in many ways. A carefully crafted master plan will be very important in ensuring the future prosperity of Claremont and maintaining the success of the park for years to come.

David Bedell





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