Harding Park Advisory Board rejects Kiwanis Citrus Festival move

April 30, 2004
Santa Paula News

The chairwoman of the George Harding Park Advisory Board told the City Council at the April 19 meeting that moving the Kiwanis Citrus Festival to the park is a bad idea.

By Peggy KellySanta Paula TimesThe chairwoman of the George Harding Park Advisory Board told the City Council at the April 19 meeting that moving the Kiwanis Citrus Festival to the park is a bad idea.Beverly Harding, whose father was a park founder, said that the Advisory Board discussed the plans of the Kiwanis Club revealed to the council at the March 29 meeting.Festival Chairman Bill Grant told the council in March that the club’s 37th annual event would be better held at Harding Park, the home of baseball in Santa Paula including Little League diamonds.In addition to providing more room for the festival, the park is visible from Highway 126, which would draw more visitors for the July 16-18 festival, Grant noted.Last year the Citrus Festival, held for decades at Veterans Memorial Park, was moved to Railroad Plaza and surrounding streets.At the April 19 meeting, Harding said she read about the proposed change and the advisory board has “taken this under advisement and concluded that this is not a proper use for this park. If carnival rides were to be put on the ball diamonds, all the hard work the Little League parents and workers have been doing all year to prepare these fields will be destroyed. We are proud of the fact that Harding Park is the best Little League Park in the county and we plan to keep it that way.”
Harding noted that the park was specifically built for youth activities for the children of Santa Paula, and “this is the main reason when the deed was signed over to the city that it was stipulated that absolutely no liquor was to be consumed or sold on this premise.”Harding discussed the issue with Police Chief Bob Gonzales and he advised that “no alcoholic beverages are to be consumed in any park in the City of Santa Paula,” she added. “The Harding Park Advisory Board asks you to deny this permission,” to the Kiwanis Club to hold the Citrus Festival at Harding Park.Aside from Harding, those serving on the Advisory Board are Jim McCoy, Joe Jauregui, Len Soprano and Louis Wagner.Harding Park is unique in the state: located on East Harvard Boulevard, park property extends south of Highway 126 and is leased for industrial purposes and the revenue stream used for park maintenance and improvements.During a later discussion on future agenda items Councilman Ray Luna asked if the city has a festival plot map from the Kiwanis Club “to see what the group has in mind. . .”The summer month of July is “an off season” for Little League activities and the fields are allowed to become fallow during that time, said City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz.Community Services Director Brian Yanez has been working on a plot plan and the Kiwanis Club is “looking to bring the festival up a notch with a stage and name acts,” Bobkiewicz added. “Their goal is $25,000 for entertainment, that’s about $24,000 more than they have spent previously. . .”

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