Ventura County Star-Survey shows some residents want memorial at park
By Kevin Clerici, kclerici@VenturaCountyStar.com
The nearly 3,000 people buried in unmarked graves at Ventura's Cemetery Memorial Park should be commemorated with a memorial there, more than 300 residents responded in a survey released Tuesday.
Roughly the same number opposed an idea to build a children's play lot and picnic area on the former cemetery's western edge, underscoring a plea by neighbors to leave the scenic park alone.
"Keep the park as natural as it is now," reads one of the responses to the survey, which was mailed to more than 1,700 residences within three blocks of the park. "We need as much open space in this neighborhood as possible."
The survey was commissioned by the city's Parks and Recreation Commission as one way to poll residents about the future of the 7-acre hillside park at East Main Street and Aliso Lane.
Neighbors and preservationists have been at odds over the park, with some residents asking for a dog area or children's play area, and preservationists urging a return to its original state, headstones and all.
The commission will discuss the survey results when it meets at 6:30 p.m. tonight at City Hall, 501 Poli St. It is scheduled next month to recommend a course of action to the City Council.
In anticipation of tonight's meeting, Ventura resident Gordon Broberg dropped off at City Hall a petition with 288 signatures urging the city to keep the park as is and "not proceed with any proposed changes."
"We are trying to say, 'Look, it does the job now,' " he said. "If it's not broken, why fix it?"
More than 500 people responded to the city survey, including some via the city's Web site, said Jerry Revard, a parks supervisor.
On the issue of developing more park uses, such as a tot lot, picnic area, benches and parking, 315 were opposed and only 142 in favor.
As for commemorating the dead, 308 respondents supported a possible "memorial, monument or wall," with 150 opposed.
Other proposals that could be discussed tonight include:
Restoring the cemetery, with headstones being returned to original locations.
Moving the old Saticoy chapel to the western edge of the park and offering the space to a nonprofit group.
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