South County Beat

Gathering spot is in the works in Nipomo

clambert@thetribunenews.comApril 8, 2014 

Plans for a small park named for one of the founding members of the Nipomo Community Services District are moving ahead, with just enough space for a small veterans’ memorial, a marker honoring Dorothea Lange’s “Migrant Mother” photo and a gazebo.

Kathy Kubiak, longtime president of the Olde Towne Nipomo Association, is now seeking donations to develop the approximately 0.68-acre Jim O. Miller Memorial Park at West Tefft and Carrillo streets.

Kubiak anticipates it will cost at least $200,000 to finish designing and building the “town-center park,” described as a little gathering spot for the community where concerts could be performed at the gazebo. The park will be landscaped, she said, with a mixture of grasses and drought-tolerant plants.

“Once it’s designed, we will also have to find donations of materials, including piping for irrigating plants,” Kubiak said. “In two to three years, we’ll see this park to fruition.”

She said the association is working with Paul Martin Lester, a professor at Cal State Fullerton, to seek grant funding to create a marker recognizing the famous photo Lange took of Florence Owens Thompson and her children in February or March of 1936 in Nipomo.

Fundraising for the veterans’ memorial will be handled by the Veterans of Foreign Wars-Nipomo, she said. The plans for the park predate the Olde Towne Nipomo Association, which was formed about 20 years ago to improve the historic downtown area of Nipomo between Thompson Avenue and the railroad tracks that paralleled Carrillo Street and Nipomo Creek.

The Nipomo Community Services District pursued the park’s creation about five years ago, but plans stalled after residents voted against an assessment district to pay for maintenance. After that, the Olde Towne Nipomo Association took the lead. The location of the park has changed slightly from the northeast corner of Tefft and Carrillo streets to the south side of West Tefft Street after sampling found the soil was contaminated by a leaking oil pipeline and heavy metals.

The contamination was likely caused by deterioration of an old railroad warehouse that was demolished in the 1950s, according to county officials.

The community services district on Wednesday will consider waiving service charges and fees for the park. Several fundraising barbecues are planned to raise money for the park April 13, May 18, June 22, July 20, Aug. 17, Sept. 21 and Oct. 19.

All will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Miner’s parking lot at 553 W. Tefft St. For information and a sketch of the park, go to www.facebook.com/OldeTowneNipomo.

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