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San Jose Mercury News - Letters to the editor, Sat June 22, 2002

Will greed gobble up open space?

I agree with Huey D. Johnson's "My View" commentary ("Will Americans stand up for parks and open space?" -- Opinion, June 19). There are too many areas of the United States where greed takes precedence over open space. The public benefits from many pioneers who had the foresight to plan for their children and grandchildren's future by setting aside open areas "for parks only," with clauses requesting that they stay free from development forever.

What is forever? It is just that. Forever means for a limitless time. It does not mean until the time that the land is too valuable to remain undeveloped. Nor does it mean that one can slice off perimeter pieces of it until it becomes an island surrounded by development.

The Westwind Barn and a 15-acre parcel were donated to Los Altos Hills in 1975 and were meant to complement 55 acres donated by Dr. Albert Byrne for a hiking and wildlife preserve. While the property is now worth millions of dollars, it was always worth a lot of money, and it will be worth more in the future. How can the city of Los Altos Hills even consider selling property that was donated for the purpose of never being sold for commercial development?

All cities can always use more money for their coffers, but at what price?

Suzanne Cannon
Los Gatos

Regarding Huey Johnson's commentary, please don't judge me and my Los Altos Hills neighbors by the shameful actions of Mayor Toni Casey's town council. Most of us are not candidates for "Lifestyles of the Rich and Selfish."

In fact, the council took a town survey that shows that the majority of us treasure Los Altos Hills' unique gifts (trees, views, and planned pathways that wander away from roads). Our trouble is that Casey and crew have been championing the requests of the incredibly rich, selfish few over the rights of the many.

When asked about his support for the sale of Westwind Barn, Council member Bob Fenwick said, "We could do other things with the money." That's exactly how most of us feel about the $3 million of our town reserves that the Town Council is trying to spend on their new Town Hall. Or maybe it plans to sell off Los Altos Hills' open space preserves, like Westwind Barn, as a fallback source of funding.

Huey Johnson has the right name for this -- "shortsighted greed."

Nancy Kelem
Los Altos Hills

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