Dreaming of Fun in the Fun Zone

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Newport Beach has a thriving and diverse coastal community, with an active discussion on what this community will look like in the future.  I have hope and faith that my kids will always be able to ride a Ferris wheel on the harbor while they smile and my knuckles go through several shades of white.

In 2005 the Newport Harbor Nautical Museum purchased the waterfront property surrounding the historical carousel, plus adjacent docks at the Fun Zone.

Now open is a Sea of Adventure interactive exhibit exploring mankind’s relationship with the ocean: nautical exploration, eco-adventure or eco-tourism of the past, present and future. Near to my passion, it will explore the struggle to sustain fish abundance, other relevant topics of today, and what the world’s oceans can offer in the future – an infinite source of extreme fun, total relaxation, and spiritual insight, as well as a range of exciting careers.

On Oct. 19, the museum will launch the Extraordinary People exhibition of “vocational and interactive profiles functioning metaphorically as encouragement for the visitors to go explore the ocean.”  Not only that, it will inspire you to get in, on and around our coastal water.  It will open with a retrospective look at a local hero, the late Nick Scandone, a Paralympic gold medalist in sailing.  Nick’s remarkable story traverses yacht racing, overcoming adversity, and the path to Olympic achievement after being diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).  What is it about some people for whom adversity is a motivator?  Hope is not a strategy, so how do these achievers know to keep pushing?  Visit NHNM.org.

Dreaming of fun in the Fun Zone, let’s talk about the “D” word – development – in the coastal environment.  The nautical musuem has announced lofty goals for Explore Ocean, a premier cultural destination.  From the web site: “The project will span from Palm Avenue to Washington and from the water’s edge including docks to East Bay Avenue. The exterior structure will be architecturally iconic; a visual magnet and central defining point for the Balboa Village. Synergy between its cultural attractions including entertainment, education, exhibition and the commercial components including retail, dining and marina activities will produce a singular guest experience to play a vital role in the revitalization of the Village, becoming the community’s social gathering place.”

I believe the only way projects like this get built is if developers, cities and stakeholders can develop trust, and trust all will verify.  I went to Notre Dame.  As part of my intellectual exploration, some would call it youthful rebellion, I wrote a paper “Faith is a human weakness.”  The premise was that human knowledge has limits, and faith was a substitute for that weakness.  I got a B.  The professor, also a nun, said I structurally made my case, but she opposed my premise and said that I missed an opportunity to conclude that faith is a human strength.

I get that now, but still recognize that fear of the unknown drove wild tales of gods and chariots bringing up the sun.  Although hope is not a strategy, I do hope that developers, the city staff and city leaders, with all other stakeholders, can focus on a vision to achieve coastal development with a community benefit outcome.  And oh yeah, can someone figure out a reasonable parking solution?

What is your vision?  Will you get involved?  Community meetings are planned for the fall, and the website indicates $7 million of the $35 million capital campaign has been raised.

And don’t forget about the museum-sponsored second annual Wooden Boat Festival, coming up Saturday Oct. 2 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., featuring Errol Flynn’s former yacht “Cherio II” and the 110-foot brigantine tall ship widely known as the Irving Johnson.

What is on your eco-mind?  Email [email protected]



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