Finally! After years of lobbying by the Summerland Citizens Association (SCA) and others, the east end of Lookout Park will get a fine new look.

At a June meeting, the County Board of Supervisors approved the allocation of $60,000 in Coastal Resource Enhancement funds to begin the park’s expansion. It’s anticipated that the approval of additional park revenue funds, Development Impact Fee funds and CSA-11 funds will complete the package.

The sizeable little slice of Lookout Park that once housed a ranger’s residence has been pretty much off limits to the public ever since the ranger left more than a decade ago. After the mobile home residence was carted away, temporary park hosts parked their vehicles there.

The premium spot offers dynamite beach views up and down the coast. No wonder the county considered locating a couple of rental cabins there—a proposal that generated considerable local controversy, even TV coverage. The SCA gave the idea a big thumbs down.

Thousands of park visitors crowd the tiny park’s confines every year. It made zero sense to shrink valuable space when there was an opportunity to expand it. And Lookout Park is essentially the community of Summerland’s only open recreational space. We hold our birthday celebrations and potlucks there, start our beach walks there.

‘Expanding the park took years of cooperative planning. Lots of community input contributed to the county’s development of an attractive landscape plan. Plantings, benches, tables and paths are designed to take maximum advantage of the location and views. There’s even a bocce ball court!

Once fully developed, the coveted spot will also be available as a special reservation area.

Jill Van Wie, county project manager, expects the project to go out to bid in late August or September, with construction beginning in late October or November. Renovations should be completed within six months, with completion in April or May. Just in time for next year’s SCA summer potluck in the park.

Plastic bag plague

Summer, and the water bottles emerge on pallets outside grocery stores, oceans of drinking water packaged for ready, one-time use in throw-away plastic. In fact, 50 percent of the plastic we use is thrown away after just one use.   

We are addicted to plastic. Look at any drugstore or supermarket shelf, everything from shampoos and bleach to meat and milk is neatly packaged in plastic. In L.A., 10 metric tons of plastic fragments go into the ocean every single day.

According to a federal study, the plastic BPA was found in the urine of 93 percent of people over the age of six. An article in the periodical “The Week” noted an Australian study finding that “people ingest an average of 2,000 microplastic particles a week through food, water and air—roughly the same amount of plastic in a credit card.”

Imagine chewing down one of your credit cards! The curse of plastic is that it never biodegrades. It assumes smaller and smaller chunks, microplastics, that hang around forever.

We’ve all heard about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Twice the size of Texas, it’s gyre of circulating plastic sludge in the middle of the Pacific between California and Hawaii. The ocean has a number of these gyres. No wonder nearly all fish are embedded with the stuff.

Now they’ve discovered plastic trash where no man had gone before. Undersea explorers broke records plunging to a depth of seven miles in the Mariana Trench—where they discovered, yes, more plastic. The head of the submarine expedition said he was “disappointed to see human contamination in the deepest point in the ocean.”

Recently I bought my grandson a handsome metal straw, complete with a tiny bottle brush and a cloth carrying bag. Who of us wasn’t moved by the sight of that sea turtle with the plastic straw jammed up its nostril? Banishing plastic straws is a small step forward.

I read that in this country we throw away 1,500 plastic bottles every second. Yikes! At this rate we’ll hydrate ourselves into oblivion. There’s an easy work-around to this—carry your own metal water bottle.

Then there is the plastic bag dilemma. In spite of the local bag ban, they accumulate. So convenient for carrying produce, a bag for every different veggie or fruit. I bought some nylon net bags for farmers market shopping just so I don’t have to accept more plastic bags.

Still they accumulate, and no one wants them. Not even China or the developing countries that used to accept our discards. Not so long ago, Albertson’s had a bin out front for used plastic bags, but it was recently removed.

The large plastic bag where I stuff the unending plastic bag flow is stuffed itself. “Where?” I asked the nice lady at our trash company. She gave me three places that accept film plastic (bags): Channel Keepers, 714 Bond St.; Community Environmental Council, 26 West Anapamu; Ablitt’s Cleaners, 14 W. Gutierrez.

Be wize—De-plasticize!

One good thing: Those late-coming, long-staying, ever-loving, purple-blooming Jacaranda trees.

Fran Davis is an award-winning writer and freelance editor whose work appears in magazines, print and online journals, anthologies and travel books. She has lived in Summerland most of her life.

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