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Campbell scales back his Crystal Cove proposal

State senator wants to limit a nonprofit's role to the historic cottage district and the El Morro area.

[Article from the Daily Pilot 5-10-2005]

By Andrew Edwards
Daily Pilot

Sen. John Campbell has scaled back his proposal to have the state hire a nonprofit group to manage Crystal Cove State Park.

Following a tour of the park Sunday, Campbell said a nonprofit's role should be limited to the park's historic cottage district and the El Morro area.

A bill to place park land under private management would not contain provisions to extend the leases of tenants living at El Morro Village, said Campbell, who represents Newport Beach and Costa Mesa in the state Senate. The state Department of Parks and Recreation is seeking to evict park residents and replace mobile homes with a public campground.

In April, Newport Beach Assemblyman Chuck DeVore dropped two bills that would have extended El Morro tenants' leases.

While not making his own proposal for El Morro, Campbell said a nonprofit in charge of that area would be able to decide how the land is used. He added that he believes a nonprofit could better represent locals' desires for El Morro than parks officials.

"Because it's made up of community people, I think they'll make a better decision than a distant state bureaucracy," Campbell said.

Campbell said he did not specifically discuss hi s proposal with DeVore, who acknowledged the two Republicans regularly discuss Crystal Cove.

DeVore said he still believes extending El Morro leases makes financial sense.

"It's a reliable source of revenue that at a significant level can accommodate what we need to have done," DeVore said.

A bill with specific proposals for the park could come out soon, though Campbell wants to speak with representatives from the state Department of Parks and Recreation and nonprofit Crystal Cove Alliance this week before legislation is written.

"We're going to try and move quick on it, because the need is there," Campbell said.

Campbell said his idea was motivated by the parks department's recent request for $2 million to complete the first phase of the restoration of 46 historic cottages at Crystal Cove. He believes the state cannot afford to spend the money, while a nonprofit would be able to raise money for park improvements.

The first phase of the restoration project was initially scheduled for completion in March at a cost of $12 million. Parks officials now expect to have 22 cottages ready by August or September if they receive additional funding, said Mike Tope, superintendent of the state parks' Orange Coast District.

The extra money is needed for two cottages that need to be rebuilt, Tope said. The parks department has attributed the delays to winter storms and structural damage that was not found in cottages until renovations started.

As part of the state budget process, parks officials already intend to solicit bids from businesses and nonprofits to manage concessions at the historic district when cottages are open to vacationers, Tope said. Parks officials expect the department to manage the planned campground at El Morro.

Crystal Cove Alliance founder Laura Davick agreed that a nonprofit should not manage the entire park. However, she said having a nonprofit manage the cottages could free the historic district from Sacramento's money problems.

"That's our goal, that we're not going to have to depend on the state budget for improvements at the park," Davick said.

If the state does seek a nonprofit to manage Crystal Cove, Davick said her group -- which is working with the parks department to raise money for the cottage project -- may submit a bid.

"If it's financially viable for us, we'll probably proceed in that direction," she said.


[Clips from original newspaper articles appear here for educational purposes and purposes of comment, rather than commercial purposes. They are reprinted under the fair use doctrine of international copyright law. Copyright Daily Pilot]



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