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Fie on park fees

(The following letter was sent to Harry Peacock, city manager.)

Although change is inevitable, I have been quite distressed regarding certain changes regarding, for example, the Michael Landon Center at Bluffs Park and Charmlee Natural Area.

For years, the Michael Landon Center was used as a meeting place for various local groups. These groups made sure that the Center was kept neat, etc., before leaving. Recently, it has come to my attention that certain groups have been informed that, from now on, there would be a fee to use these rooms. For example, two particular groups – the Senior Citizens and the Malibu Art Association – are among the groups that would now have to pay for their meetings. I am sure we all realize the benefits that our Senior Citizens have brought to this community and this country. Although I am not in the category of senior citizen, as a semi-retired person, I realize what it means to pay one’s dues. I certainly think that our Senior Citizens deserve courtesy and respect and that we should make it easy and inexpensive for them to have gatherings.

As for the Malibu Art Association – this group has had exhibits of their works in several city and other business buildings as well as numerous outdoor shows – has had “open to the public” art demonstrations monthly, contributes books to the library, organizes weekly, “open to the public” uninstructed art classes, and donates money each year to the local school scholarship funds.

These groups are just two among many that would be affected by using this community area as a money making project. I know that we must generate income into Malibu, but I don’t understand why Parks and Recreation feels that it’s their mission to generate finances instead of encouraging the community to enjoy the environment, as well as procuring the correct type of properties suitable for recreational purposes. Is there so much pressure upon each department now that they feel they need to come up with ways to make income through their department? I realize that sometimes rooms are rented for parties or various meetings, but Malibu needs a Community Center, as well as new ways to make money.

More shocking news was when I heard that Parks and Recreation had a rough plan in the making which would affect our only Natural Area – Charmlee. Currently, Charmlee has docents that are always there to help in whatever way possible. It is a place where one can really enjoy wild animals and the native plant life. There is an enriching history about Charmlee and many school children learn about ecology by visiting the Nature Center and hiking on Charmlee’s unique trails. This is NOT a place to put camping grounds, volleyball courts or any other contrived recreation. Small community parks are usually used for that sort of recreation. As for camping, unfortunately, camping out can invite all sorts of public interference, especially FIRES. Charmlee is a Natural Area, a place still filled with artifacts and history. The public should feel privileged to visit.

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Once again, I hope that this gesture from Parks and Recreation doesn’t mean that there is pressure to show that they are capable of generating income for the city. This doesn’t seem to be the way to get real money into the city, just uncomfortable feelings from its citizens! It’s doesn’t seem wise psychology to “ask the people who contribute to pay to contribute” as with the Art Association and Senior Citizens. Let’s face facts. The people who live here with the real money most likely have tax shelters. Isn’t it interesting that it’s always the “little guy/gal” that ends up paying out of his/her pocket? And isn’t it interesting that it’s always the environment that “takes the loss.?” I really can’t see either of these plans – making Charmlee a public park or charging city contributing groups for meeting room usage – generating any real money into our city.

I em enclosing a copy of the Malibu General Plan – Vision and Mission Statements, which is in the Fall 1998 issue of the City of Malibu Newsletter and Recreation Guide, page 3, as a reminder. Perhaps we need money in our city, but if all the nature and clean ocean and animals disappear due to our frantic development to make money, who would want to visit or live here? It will then be a true “city” complete with taller buildings, more condos and cement! We can always put plants and animals inside some museum – and charge money!

It is my hope that the above-mentioned matters are reviewed and that the community is involved in contributing thoughts and ideas toward any upcoming plans.

Sandra Rosenthal

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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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