For completeness, we point out that FCA got the County of Orange to buy the property for creating a park and later FCA found the funds for build the park.

Construction of promised Crawford Canyon Park inches forward

July 1, 2021|North Tustin

By Elena Levin 

The development of Craw- ford Canyon Park– inhabiting an empty lot where Newport Avenue meets Crawford Canyon Road– was part of an agreement, pro- posed in 2018, between the Orange County Parks Department and the developer of the Clearwater senior living facility in North Tustin.

The search for a prime park location in the area began in 2011, but OC Parks eventually settled on this “diamond in the rough.” When the developer pitched the idea of building the senior living facility, Clearwater in North Tustin, on Newport Avenue, it agreed to either fund the development of Crawford Canyon Park, or design and construct the park itself if the project was approved. The negotiation, stemming from the “public benefit” clause of the county’s development agreement, was settled in June 2019, when the developer decided to pay for the project rather than build it.

The question is, when is it going to be built?

OC Parks received the first payment after the issuance of the building permit for the developer’s project. The full transfer of funds is expected once Clearwater is granted a Certificate of Occupancy from the county’s building and safety division.

The community anticipates that the park will meet its needs. According to the 2018 survey by OC Parks, more than 40% of North Tustin residents said they would visit the location weekly, for anything from finding a place to relax, to providing their children with a local playground. One resident explained that he would use the park for “walking [his] dogs daily, and maybe even visiting more because it’s supposed to be a passive park … so it’s conducive to more peaceful activity.”

Not all locals share those sentiments regarding Crawford Canyon Park. Whether it be concerns of trespassing within a private road adjacent to the area, or an increase in vandalism, this development is not without its critics. “I’m scared because we’ve had a lot of people coming down here, and kids going down there making ramps. And that’s before anybody really knew there was something there,” neighboring resident Carol Fairchild says.

Despite some resistance, OC Parks has confirmed that the current plans for the park match the blueprints presented at public meetings three years ago. Yet, some changes must be made. Specifically, in order for this park to be accessible to pedestrians and bikers, a direct route must be built from the surrounding residential areas to the park. This path will come from the Crawford Canyon sidewalk extension project, spearheaded by the OC Public Works Department. Undertaken simultaneously with the park’s construction, it is part of the reason for the delay.

Before construction can begin, the development permits must be approved, which will allow for contractors to bid on the project. Once this has been achieved, the Orange County Board of Supervisors must then accept the awarded contract for building to commence.

With this in mind, OC Parks predicts that the construction contract will be awarded later this year, on track for the park’s completion within 2022, as initially planned. However, besides the Crawford Canyon sidewalk extension project, the pandemic has created additional roadblocks, so the community should not expect the park until late 2022 — or even 2023.

Nevertheless, Crawford Canyon Park will, hopefully, be worth the wait. With plans for beautification and the use of eco-friendly construction materials, this new site has the potential to be something remarkable – a place where locals won’t hesitate to spend their time.

Perhaps by the end of next year, North Tustin residents will have a new recreation area in the community.