Brookside Park should be the shining star of Pasadena parks. Situated in the middle of the Arroyo Seco, it should be a beautiful, natural gathering place for all the residents of our city to enjoy. For far too long, though, Brookside Park has been neglected and diminished by the City of Pasadena.
The Fannie Morrison Center in the middle of Brookside Park was once an outstanding horticultural and gardening center. Floral shows, gardening demonstrations and spectacular gardens enhanced the natural splendor of the Arroyo for four decades. In the seventies the center was used by theater and cultural groups. Since then, however, the City of Pasadena has used the center to store equipment and supplies. The buildings have deteriorated to a sad state. The park, however, is still used by hundreds of visitors every week, and far from being derelict is a wonderful place for rest and recreation.
Now there is a purported lease to a sole source entity which constitutes a transfer of park land in violation of the city charter. This lease is null and void. Here's why: The Pasadena City Charter, the constitution of the city, clearly states that any change of use, sale or transfer of parkland must be approved by a vote of all Pasadenans. Article XVI of the Pasadena City Charter states:
"All dedicated park land owned by the City shall be used only for park and recreational purposes, and shall not be sold, transferred or used for other purposes, except upon the approval of a majority of the voters at an election held for such purpose. The City Council shall adopt by ordinance regulations to preserve and protect such dedicated park land. For purposes of this Charter, "dedicated park land" means property now owned or hereafter acquired which has been dedicated by ordinance and used for park and recreation use."
That provision was put in the City Charter twenty years ago to protect Pasadena's diminishing parkland after citizens fought off a private organization planning to develop a Hall of Science museum in the Arroyo. The city's municipal code states that any lease exceeding 15 years is considered a sale, and the lease to the Kidspace Museum is for 50 years for $1 a year. Pasadena has attempted to declare the Fannie Morrison Center "surplus" property, unneeded by the citizens of our community. How can this be possible when Pasadena is so severely underparked? How can the City be so willing to give away such precious resources?
Proponents of the museum argue that this area is deteriorated and dangerous and for this reason Kidspace Museum should be allowed to take this land. The Arroyo Seco Foundation and many citizens of Pasadena disagree and believe that the City should maintain and revitalize this area, not wash its hands of it by giving it away.
The City Council and the City Attorney refuse to recognize that the lease was mistakenly entered into in violation of the City Charter and Municipal Code. The Arroyo Seco Foundation has strongly urged the Council to review and rectify this error but with no success. As a result, we have no choice but to appeal to the court to enforce our City's laws because we oppose the violation of City Charter procedures that are intended to protect park land.
Pasadena Needs Its Parks and Open Space
It is for these reasons that the Arroyo Seco Foundation and concerned citizens oppose the transfer of precious park land. Our Foundation has been given no alternative but to file suit against the City of Pasadena to protect not only our public park and open space but also the integrity of our Charter and Municipal Code.
For more information about our position, please read the documents and return often to this site as additional information will be posted regularly along with important public documents that clarify the position of the Arroyo Seco Foundation.