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City gearing up to take on Bartlett Park

The area may have great potential, but without money to do upgrades, it remains to trouble spot.

August 28, 2013|By Anthony Clark Carpio

What to do with the 28-acre Bartlett Park has been an issue for Huntington Beach leaders at least since the 1990s, and maybe even the '70s.

The land was deeded to the city in 1971 by the developers as part of the Quimby Act, state law requiring that a percentage of land to be developed must be used for parks and recreational facilities.

The land officially became the city's property in 1999 when a member of the Newland family, which owned the site, signed off on it, said Huntington Beach historian Jerry Person.

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Since that time, little has changed within the nature-heavy park, partly because of funding problems and partly because of the presence of historical artifacts. But in the wake of an apparent murder-suicide within its boundaries, council members are pushing yet again to clean up and add some recreational amenities to Bartlett Park.

David Dominguez, city facilities, development and concessions manager, said Bartlett Park is home to cultural resources, including a likely Native American burial ground in the western portion.

"There was some research that was done, but no one really knows to the full extent what might be there," Dominguez said. "There's been a couple of excavations that were done a long time ago. One of the documents we have from the 1900s talked about truckloads of skeletal material. And then in 1935, they found some other burials there."

The possibility of more artifacts requires special care be taken in order to work around the area, he said.

While

Bartlett Park had been used primarily as a nature park, residents today use it in various ways, including riding BMX bicycles, walking their dogs and jogging.

The park's terrain varies. The northern and western portions are relatively flat. The east is rugged and densely occupied by willow trees and scrub. A flood plain is located in the southern region.

"There's a lot of ad-hoc uses over the years," Dominguez said.

Along with the recreation, the park has also been synonymous with illegal activity. A multitude of homeless camps can be found throughout the area, often in the dense concentration of willow trees. Residents have also complained of drug and alcohol consumption taking place.

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