In a couple of weeks, I will have lived here for 44 years. So, I was here when we had a park, “Eleanor Park.” in the center of our small town. And I was here when Jimmy Johnson opened what he dubbed The Tax Shelter, a hot dog stand, something that could be used to help pay the property taxes on what was obviously a prime piece of real estate.

As the park was named for Johnson’s mother, he, along with most of us, preferred to see the parcel remain a park. So, as I recall it, an offer was made: For a $50 one-time property owner assessment, “we” could own the parcel and preserve it as a park.

We voted on the measure. I pressed everyone I knew to vote for this. But I was shocked at how many people said they weren’t going to, reassuring me with, “Don’t worry, Dennis, it will always be a park.”

They were wrong. But now, the Butterfields, in an act of astonishing civic generosity, are giving us back “our” park.

The article in your paper about this shouldn’t have been in a small box on page three. It shouldn’t even have been the center piece of your front page. It should have been the front page. You buried the lede, the most impressive lede you’ve had all year.

But enough of complaining. I appreciate the Town Crier for letting us know. I appreciate Dave and Loie Butterfield for their generosity, and to Shane Stewart and Bob Hughes for their efforts. I, for one, am smiling a grateful smile.

Dennis McGuire



  1. I lived and worked in Idyllwild from 1971 to 1980 and had not been back to visit since 1987 when Ray Garner passed away. When I stayed with old friend Dennis McGuire last spring, I found the downtown district unrecognizable. The development in Elenor Park ruined my memories of the most charming mountain town in California.

    I must agree with my friend – that the restoration of Elenor Park should be front page news and considered the best thing to happen to Idyllwild since the sad decision was made to allow any development there.

    My hat’s off to the new owners for their gracious and most intelligent decision to restore the Park. As an architect, I embrace change, which often includes buildings, but sometimes deconstructing a mistake is much more valuable than adding to one. I’m looking forward to the restoration of Elenor park and the open and welcoming feeling it evoked.
    Ric Stott, AIA,LEED AP