Cluff Vista Park takes shape
by Bret Bradigan
Trailing downward from an original copper art-piece trellis,
flanked by the tentative tendrils of young grapevines, curved
pathways wind through a variety of theme gardens commanding the
approach to Ojai and the namesake vista of pink moments beyond.
Cluff Vista Park has taken final form. Most of what remains will
be the collaboration between art and nature.
Within two weeks, when artist Paul Lindhardt is expected to install
his basalt columns on their bases, the park's centerpiece will
be in place. The sculptures were chosen in open competition by
the park committee, landscape architect Tom Bostrom said, because
the "composition of natural stones best suits the look and
feel of the park," and because it draws attention to the
park from motorists passing by on Ojai Avenue. The two tallest
pillars - one at the low corner of the park will be 20 feet tall,
while a 15-footer will oversee the top end - also contain onyx
gemstones, carved and polished to translucency by Lindhardt,
and wired for fiber optics. "When the light is on, it emits
a soft glow," Bostrom said.
Park construction has taken longer than planned, he said. It
was originally scheduled to be done by the end of June and is
now expected to be complete in early September - because of the
three phases necessary for the project and consequent delays.
The project is still within its budget, he said - $631,000 from
the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy and the $131,000 from the city
It has required heavy lifting to transform the site of the former
Shell station into a centerpiece park. Bostrom said some 500
cubic yards of topsoil was hauled in to nurture the estimated
1,500 plants and trees of 60 or more varieties. Pathways are
made of decomposed granite to stall skateboarders. Natural rock
benches circle and flank the park's two ponds and simulated creek.
Gardens, contained within the rock walls and benches, are designed
for different purposes, yet all use native plants. There will
be gardens for butterflies, for hummingbirds, for aromatic plants,
a riparian area and simulated chaparral.
"It's more of a community garden than a traditional park,"
said Bostrom. "Really, the main feature is the view of the
Another of the art installations commissioned for the park has
already been installed. Jan Sanchez fixed her copper creation
of oak leaves and twining branches to the center trellis in June.
Near the top of the park on the corner of Rincon Street and Ojai
Avenue, a massive boulder is inscribed with Ojai lore - the Chumash
derivation of the name "Ojai" and folk legends about
the origins of this area. The boulder will also house an azimuth
for sighting the nearby mountain peaks with their names, elevations,
and perhaps some of their folklore inscribed.
The park also provides parking for about nine cars. And even
the landmark oak tree on the corner, once in serious peril from
rot and having its trunk buried under 4 feet of fill, has a favorable
prognosis since arborist recommendations were followed. "It's
doing better since we uncovered its trunk," said Bostrom.
© 2002 The Ojai Valley News
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