WARNING TO BE VIGILANT
The catastrophic mutilation of the prized Moreton Bay Fig tree in La Crescenta is the latest in a series of debacles that have given rise to a reawakening in our community – a renewed and blistering realization that our heritage and aesthetic values remain completely vulnerable within unincorporated L.A. County. On the day of yet another weekend demolition, galvanized Crescenta Valley residents showed up in droves and succeeded in preserving what was left of the mangled tree.
Mike Meyers was right – the tree was not saved. Its dignity and majesty have been destroyed, and the eerie sight shocks anew each time I drive down Foothill Boulevard. And yet, the disfigured remains evoke a sense of pride in my community for insisting that our identity be respected and the things we cherish preserved. If it survives, the Moreton Bay Fig tree will serve as an oxymoronic reminder of our community’s vulnerability and our resolve. The Tree is no longer a vestige of our heritage; it is a new symbol of who we are today.
We must use this lesson to continue the fight against disfiguring developments looming ahead, like the proposed 229-unit housing project slated for the Verdugo Hills Golf Course property. For the past four years, Glendale-Crescenta VOICE has championed the preservation of the Verdugo Hills Golf Course as its sole issue, vigilantly continuing to monitor events and advocate with government officials. All communities surrounding the golf course must be proactive in this fight or we will find ourselves scrambling to show up in droves on a weekend when backhoes have begun digging up the driving range. We must stay on the offensive so as to not be caught off guard yet again. Residents can learn how to participate in preservation efforts for the Verdugo Hills Golf Course at SaveTheGolfCourse.org, a comprehensive website dedicated to saving this recreational and open space gem.
The tragic Moreton Bay Fig tree has become our warning cry. Its altered visage is a clarion call to us to remain engaged in the long-term struggle to retain our precious resources and our quality of life.
Editor’s note: Sharon Hales is Vice President of Glendale-Crescenta VOICE
(Volunteers Organized in Conserving the Environment)
MORE ON THE MORETON
Some people move into a community and by their interest and involvement, they elevate the whole consciousness of that community. Others, not so much. A third group moves in and by their calculated indifference and careless ignorance destroy parts of that community. We know not what Newstar Realty has in store for the old home in the 2600 block of Foothill, but if their intention is to do to the building what they have already done to the magnificent tree that has graced this place for over 100 years, then we will know just what group they belong to. The tree is totally unique, and was well on its way to the celebrated, grand specimens that are treasured and protected in Pasadena and Santa Barbara. Only a fool would cut down something like that. Mature trees of this stature are a positive, quantifiable addition to the sales, bottom line, something that most developers simply (and amazingly still) fail to understand. The two story building itself is arguably one of the most splendid pieces of architecture in its style (late Craftsman-1915) out of the handful of old homes that are still extant on Foothill in La Crescenta. To demolish the structure only to replace it with another two-story structure (max. allowable under the new CSD rules) is unbelievably insane in so many ways. Just how much more square footage are you gaining for the effort in time, money and grief from an outraged community? Especially if it is of the pseudo-Mediterranean mediocrity that appears to be the prevailing style of the strip-mall mentality (luckily, not allowed by the CSD).
The tree and the house are so wound into the historic fabric of La Crescenta that their destruction would be a massive insult and wound to the community. Clever, imaginative and inspired design (based on a knowledge of the history and place) is what is called for on this property, that responds to the tree and the house.
Perhaps the Newstar Realty owners should sell now and move to another locality that is more conducive to their brand of development. Their credibility in this community is irretrievably gone!
HONORING THEIR SON AND OTHERS
On Dec. 10 it will be four years since we lost our middle son Nicholas in Iraq. We miss his presence in our lives and wish he could be with us, especially for the holidays. We are now beginning to look for ways to honor Nick’s sacrifice and so we ask for the community’s help.
Two Strike Park is a dedicated war memorial park and VFW Post #1614 has been working for several years to get it updated and of course to add the names of those in our valley who have been lost in war. They have received approval from the county for the work that needs to be done and now the Post must gather the funds. The new trend in gift exchanges between friends is to donate money to different organizations in honor of friends or family – there really are a lot of wonderful local organizations. This year we have chosen to donate in honor of Nick to the War Memorial Fund.
If you are looking to donate please consider this Memorial to our fallen. Donations may be sent to VFW #1614, P.O. Box 12182, La Crescenta, CA 91224. Memo it Memorial Wall.
Paul and Carolyn Steinbacher