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Second pocket-park set to open in Laguna Beach

Newest park opens less than a month after the Frontage Road Mini Park had its ribbon cutting ceremony.

July 11, 2012|By Barbara Diamond
(Courtesy Charlotte…)

The city has traded in two empty lots for neighborhood mini parks this summer.

The Park Avenue View Park is scheduled to be dedicated next week, less than a month after Woodland Drive folks celebrated the opening of the Frontage Road Mini Park that fronts their neighborhood.

"The difference in the parks is the locale," said Bob Borthwick, who designed the linear spaces in tandem, working with a very small budget.

Borthwick said the hillside park was former City Manager Ken Frank's idea.

The park was created on an empty city-owned lot between two houses at the access point for the Laguna Beach County Water District's maintenance road that doubles as a trail, Borthwick said. It overlooks Laguna Canyon, with the ocean in the background.

Borthwick used mostly native plants with some succulents for the landscape.

"The landscaping transitions out of open space so we didn't want it to be too manicured," Borthwick said. "We used native Laguna Beach cactus (prickly pear) that the contractor cut from behind Riddle Field."

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The plan called for no vegetation higher than six feet. Scrub oaks in Borthwick's original plan were scrapped at the neighbors' request as was an ugly gate, which was replaced with a single chain hitched to posts painted brown to be less obtrusive

"I feel great about both parks," Borthwick said. "They each fit their neighborhood."

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A wing and a prayer

Borthwick created the canyon mini-park from an unsightly patch of dirt that measures 200 feet long and averages about 20 feet wide, used for several years as a dumping ground and construction staging site.

"Regumbah Connolly, who had lived in the Woodland Drive area for 40 years, approached Jane Egly, who went to Ken and he approached me," said Borthwick, who spent the next three years working on plans for both parks

"They were sister projects, with the same contractor and the same timeline," he said.

His plant palette for the canyon park included yuccas, agave and jades, which were natural plants for the area.

"Some had been stuck in the ground years ago and they had survived," Borthwick said. "We also used 'native' boulders here and at the Park Avenue Park.

"The boulders, between three and four feet across, had been rescued from the North Laguna Storm Drain Project. The contractor was going to take them to the dump and the city called and asked if we could use them," he added.

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