By Bud Emerson
Resident, Del Mar
Nothing makes me prouder of Del Mar than our parks and open space. I love walking through Seagrove and Powerhouse parks and seeing how we welcome visitors to enjoy with us these wonderful, family-friendly spaces. Hiking the trails in Crest Canyon and Anderson Canyon transports us into the heart of nature's bounty.
Boy, did we get it right in the '70s and '80s when we voted to tax ourselves to buy up these juicy pieces of nature for preservation. It is hard to reconcile the oft-heard criticism of Del Mar as "elitist" when you experience the rich multi-cultural stew of family picnics in our parks and beaches that we pay to provide. We may be a town of only 4,500 persons, but we welcome visitors in the millions throughout the year. How elitist is that?
For those who have moved here more recently, it is important to know how all of this came about. In the '70s there was much talk about the "highest and best use" of these spaces. Aggressive developers were proposing high-rise condo complexes in the canyons. To head off these developments, leaders in our community organized a "keep greenery in the scenery" campaign to acquire and preserve open space. A bond issue was place on the ballot and, yes, we voted to tax ourselves to pay off these bonds. The fruits of that election were the preservation of Crest Canyon, Anderson Canyon and Seagrove Park.
In the '80s developers planned a restaurant row along the beach front north of Seagrove Park. At the last minute, a forward-looking group of citizen leaders organized a campaign to acquire that space. Opponents organized an aggressive campaign warning that this small city would bankrupt itself with this ill-advised plan. A hotly contested election again resulted in our decision to tax ourselves to pay off a bond to purchase the space. That space is now prized as Powerhouse Park.
Today's generation struggles to raise funds to pay off the debt for the old Shores school site for another park. History tells us we will be proud to tell the next generation that once again we stepped up to preserve a valuable open space asset for the future.
Every time we walk these trails or enjoy these parks and beaches with our visitors, we can indulge ourselves some pride in our foresight that very few other cities could match. The little engine that could.