A clearly pleased Dawn Sonnier leaves the speaker podium after the Planning Commission approved the Idyllwild Playground. Photo by Marshall Smith
With a minimum of discussion, and with a small contingent of Idyllwild supporters in the audience, the Riverside County Planning Commission approved a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for construction of a 7,980-square-foot playground on the Idyllwild Community Center (ICC) site.

The vote, at the Wednesday, Oct. 26 meeting, was unanimous and approval was subject to stated conditions.

In an email request for clarification, County Planner Wendell Bugtai discussed two of the conditions.

The first addresses a concern about construction by volunteers. “As part of the conditions of approval, the playground equipment will be inspected at different stages of installation and signed off by the Building and Safety Department,” he said.

The second is directed at potential archeological resources or data on the site. “Also, the archeology conditions require a Phase IV cultural resources report upon final inspection and sign off of the playground.”

A Phase IV report documents the presence or absence of “cultural features, human remains or diagnostic artifacts of any kind.”

The report is required by the county archeologist, as stated at the meeting, because, “old wooden cabins were demolished without a permit, [and therefore] a study is required.”

Additionally, the Planning Commission is requiring playground applicant (Lee Arnson for the Idyllwild Community Recreation Council) to submit a revised Americans with Disability Act parking plan.

No one spoke at the meeting in opposition to the approval. Two Pine Cove residents filed letters in opposition — both expressing concern over safety of the equipment given that volunteers are installing all components; the second letter also suggested that the playground should not have been approved independently of approval of the community center master plan.

The writer stated that in the event the center is not built, the playground will not properly relate in scale to the rest of the site.

Planning Commission Chair John Roth made a minor suggestion to playground advocate and ICRC acting chairperson Dawn Sonnier to revise “Exhibit B,” the diagram of the proposed playground.

He suggested that the diagram note “Tot Lot” use by children ages 2 through 5, and the wider playground for use by children ages 6 through 12

Seven other Idyllwild residents joined Sonnier at the hearing to show support. Approval represents a major accomplishment for Sonnier, the driving force behind the playground concept and fundraising.

Sonnier plans to have volunteers assemble the playground equipment in June 2012, in a community build, much like the building of Town Hall.