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March 20, 2012 > Kimber Park debate remains deadlocked

Kimber Park debate remains deadlocked

By William Marshak

In an epic battle raging between landowner Sheena Chang (Fremont Mission Hills LLC) and Kimber Park residents to determine the fate of "private open space," a glimmer of hope surfaced toward the end of another in a series of developer meetings, held March 15. These gatherings appear to be designed to moderate and weaken the resolve of residents who have organized as Save Kimber Park, to continue designation and use of approximately 12 acres in their midst as a tennis/swim club and open, undeveloped land. In response, the entire parcel has been ringed with a chain link fence and "keep out" signs by the owner.

A new moderator, Fremont resident and bookkeeper Holly DeVito, replaced Peter MacDonald who chaired a similar meeting held in February; DeVito did not appear to have much more control of crowd sentiment than her predecessor. However, tempers were held in check during developer Steve Saray's (Bella Vina Development LLC) presentation and explanation of a variety of proposals, most with residential units. One variation, termed "a threat" by Kimber Park attendees, included a cemetery.

Christina Broadwin, co-chair of Save Kimber Park and advocate of zero residential development within the contested acreage, asked developers why they had not addressed concerns and suggestions raised by residents at the last meeting. In response, Saray said that he heard "open space" as the prime consideration and did address this although almost all proposals retained residential development as an "economic engine."

As the evening wore on, many residents sensed little movement toward any resolution and left. Those who remained concentrated on a plan marked #2, an expanded sports complex with no residential development. Attorney for Ms. Chang, Paul Gumina, moderated the discussion and began to define acceptable conditions for this concept including public access, facilities and landscaping options. Although financial considerations remain for future meetings, Steve Saray made it clear early in his presentation that any acceptable solution requires "an [financial] engine that feeds it." He concentrated on residential development as that engine but by the end of the meeting, the content and viability of a sports facility as an optional "engine" was also under consideration.

Hard numbers and feasibility of any plans were left for future discussions but Saray noted that homes under consideration would average 3,500 square feet. Costs and practical considerations of a sports club complex have yet to be revealed. Formidable obstacles to find acceptable concepts and financially viable options remain. One resident's comment was indicative of the gap, referring to purchase of the property by Ms. Chang as speculative, saying, "You bought the wrong horse."


Save Kimber Park advocates have posted additional information at: www.savekimberpark.com

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