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Wildomar parks may close if measure fails

February 15, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Public facilities like city parks have taken a big hit from the down economy, and the Inland Empire city of Wildomar will once again ask voters to help pay for upkeep of its three parks. A similar ballot measure passed four years ago was struck down in the courts.

Despite the fact that it was a work day and a school day, Marna O'Brien Park in Wildomar was pretty busy. There were people practicing soccer, playing with balloons and one little girl was walking her alpaca.

"A lot of activities going on, they've got the baseball, soccer, everything, so I think it's a great thing," said Deb Folcka of Wildomar.

But even though people like Folka already approved funding for O'Brien Park, along with Windsong Park and Heritage Park, unless voters approve a second ballot measure, these parks could be fenced off soon.

"I'm not going to be happy about it. I don't live very far from here, and I think it's just going to be more destruction, and people will start tagging and stuff and having a hard time with it," Folcka said.

A few years ago, residents approved by a majority vote a $28-a-year fee to keep these parks open, but one resident sued the county. The resident said he never uses the parks and shouldn't have to pay the fee.

The court agreed with him, so the fee went away, and unless voters approve the fee by a two-thirds vote, the parks will close.

"We do not have the money. It's about $200,000 a year to take out of the general fund, so they are in dire straights," said Councilwoman Bridgette Moore.

But despite how Moore feels, a lot of people in Wildomar don't want to pay more, especially when many folks don't use the parks.

"I don't think they need to raise taxes. Personally, I don't think they need to do," said Charlie Hopkins of Wildomar.

Wildomar voters will have their say on June 7.