The [donors of the Idyllwild Community Center (ICC) property] were stuck in a bad real estate market, with vacant land they bought years ago. An unresolved migrating oil spill was discovered, making it even more unsellable.

And here’s their practical solution. Use public money for real estate development — a community center. Keep 100 percent of the highway frontage for themselves, for their profit. Make it a donation (the land in the back), keep the valuable frontage for themselves. Donate the back, not to the people of Idyllwild, but to a private company with strings attached and reversals.

Taking a hard look at the good-intentioned people that surround this project is painful and uncomfortable. But good people sometimes make horrible, costly mistakes; the good people on our Fire Commission (Pete Capparelli, president), and also the good people that were managing Town Hall and all our tax recreation dollars (Idyllwild Community Recreation Council, ICRC). Our local fire and emergency reserves went from $1,000,000 to $60,000, and no one has an accurate accounting.

Our Town Hall, after being managed by locals for 50 years, was taken over by the county because ICRC was not to be trusted. We are left with a divided community over recreation — Town Hall community center on one side, ICRC/ICC on the other. Difficult questions should have been raised earlier, years earlier.

Let’s take a painful, uncomfortable look at the “good people” of the ICC. The ICC was originally called the ICRC steering committee, with Mr. Capparelli as chair boss. But with ICRC falling into trouble, they have a new name, only it’s the same people.

They say they represent all of Idyllwild, and tell us we need a new community center development. Here are its members: real estate agents, contractors, very comfortable retirees, and board members (old and new) from the distrusted ICRC, a strange mixture representing us.

Real estate agents who think building new real estate will revive a dead market; bad thinking, only jobs will do that. Contractors who are looking for a short-term windfall for their friends and associates.

Very comfortable retirees who are unaware of the financial crises most families are in; they will ask for more assessments (higher taxes) to build and keep the center operating.

The discredited ICRC president and some of the original founders of ICRC are also board members here. They want back control of our tax dollars. And, of course, the donor is a real estate developer and owns a real estate development company.

Please Mr. Donor, there are so many of us that do not want a community center, but want a park downtown. The money is available to buy your land and preserve it for future generations. Do not destroy the beauty of Idyllwild.

A park means visitors and jobs. A community center means higher taxes. Yes to a park, no to a community center.

Norm Cassen
Pine Cove

Editor’s note: The first story about the possibility of donation of property for a local community center appeared in Sept. 28, 2006 issue of the Town Crier.

The first on-site monitoring wells at the Village Food and Fuel (Shell station) were installed in 1998 and 1999. The first off-site monitoring well was drilled in May 2006.

The property along Highway 243 that was not included in the title transfer is a 50-foot strip, barely sufficient for any development.