(June 5, 2003) -- Over the weekend, we took our children to El Dorado Park.
They enjoyed open space that would not exist if (years before our kids were born) Ann Cantrell had not saved the open space park land by stopping a City Hall then-hellbent on erasing it.
In the mid-1990's, City Hall used every cog in its machinery to try and turn parts of El Dorado Park shown on this page into a massive, forty acre commercial "sports complex."
It would have consumed park land roughly (very roughly) shown here, extending from the lake, home to the ducks...
...flattening glider hill...
...plowing across a road west of it...
...and stretching westward behind the current Police Academy and late "AutoNation" all the way to the west end of El Dorado Park.
And it would have eaten park land south to roughly (very roughly) where a stand of trees is, not all the way to Wardlow Rd. but much of the way toward it.
Yes, the City Council actually approved this. They brushed aside the views of Ms. Cantrell and others including Billie Sheaffer, Colette Marie McLaughlin, Peter LaBarba, PT scribe Tom Hennessy and the voices of over 20,000 LB residents who signed "Save the Park" petitions for a modest ballot measure (written by Dennis Carroll when in our view he used to make sense) to protect parkland.
City Hall effectively dared Ms. Cantrell to sue them. She did. With attorney Jean Martin, she won.
And we won. And our children won.
It is a measure of her success that across town in the 4th Council district, homeowner Traci Wilson-Kleekamp followed Ms. Cantrell's example and in 1999 (with Ann joining the battle) waged a successful fight that saved Stearns Park from a City Hall proposed communications compound (for which a better site was later found).
And after a bruising battle over Scherer Park in which Ms. Cantrell also fought (this time with now-CouncilmanDennis Carroll in our view making less sense), City Hall won a Pyrrhic battle victory but has since decided the LB park wars should end: it is now seriously talking about a Charter Amendment to protect LB parkland.
But there is an even bigger measure of Ms. Cantrell's success. Our children had such a good time that they asked us the name of the place with the big open space where they ran and ran and ran and saw people flying kites and launching gliders and snuggling under a tree with ducks quacking at a lake. We told them the place is called "Cantrell Park."
We hope others begin calling that area Cantrell Park. We hope the name sticks...because it's richly deserved.
And thank you, Ann.