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Laurel PTA spearheads community involvement for Lagos de Moreno Park Revitalization Project

3 years ago by in ( City Guide , Fundraisers , Hotspots , News , Old/New , Schools , Welcome to Brea )
This year Laurel Elementary School’s Park, Lagos de Moreno, turned 45 years old. For the past five years PTA volunteers, Mary Martinez and Diane Stites, along with fellow school park enthusiasts, have been on a mission to revitalize the park (open to the public when school is not in session). Today the park is in poor condition with the playground area containing just a few equipment, much different than it was in October of 1973, the day it was renamed from Laurel Elementary Park to Lagos de Moreno in honor of Brea’s sister-city located in Mexico.

    Back in September of 1973, plans were made to welcome 13 visitors from our sister-city Lagos de Moreno, Mexico established in 1969. At the time Lagos de Moreno was 300 years old with a population of 65,000 residents, which was large in comparison to Brea then and surprisingly now. Various city committees were developed with specific duties to entertain the guests’ five-day stay in the City of Brea. It took many people to make the event a success. Among the committee members were Brea’s Mayor Don Fox and his wife Pat, along with fellow council members and their wives, city staff, Brea-Olinda Unified School District board members, and 30 citizens, many of who were Mexican-American residents residing near Laurel Elementary School, the city’s largest Mexican-American populated area.

      Lagos de Moreno busy five-day Brea itinerary started with the official welcoming on Wednesday, October 3, 1973 at the Brea Community Center. Thursday morning began with a breakfast at the Imperial Golf Course, followed by two separate luncheons: one for the women and another for the men. After lunch the women engaged in a two-hour shopping excursion while the men participated in an industrial tour. To unwind and relax, a late afternoon siesta time was allocated as dinner was planned at Sandy’s Casita. The highlight on Friday was the football game of Brea-Olinda vs. Laguna Beach held at the high school. Then on Saturday morning the Lagos group joined Brea dignitaries for the formal Lagos de Moreno Park dedication to start the daylong festivities, which included an installation of a plaque at the park's one acre entrance. It was also noted that Lagos de Moreno Park was intended for the Mexican-American residents located in the central area of the city. Sunday morning consisted of a tour of Disneyland. And finally farewell activities were scheduled before the Lagos group made the long trek back home.

        Many of you who are familiar with Lagos de Moreno Park remember the significance of the fire truck. According to Don McBride, longtime rotarian member, the Brea Rotary Club was instrumental in gifting Lagos de Moreno a working fire truck along with other necessity items. Prior to the sister-city relationship evolving, Don recalls going down there and serving as an interpreter on a boat in Mexico translating how we wanted to develop a mutually beneficial program between our two cities, which soon after became the first sister-city Brea adopted. We also had a fire truck that was donated by the City of Huntington Beach and placed in the park for children to enjoy. Jack Smith, Olinda native and museum docent, recalls installing the 1946 Seagrove fire truck at Lagos de Moreno Park in 1975. But where is our fire truck today?

          After a few phone calls, the fire truck was found just down the road at Unicorn Metals on Lambert Road in La Habra. Luis Ornelas owner of Unicorn Metals said, that the City of Brea contacted him about 10 years ago to relay that the fire truck, due to its unsafe worn condition, was available for purchase. Luis said he purchased it but did not have a plan in mind regarding what he was going to do with it. So, today it’s located in his scrap metal yard, in tact, and according to Luis, if anyone is interested in restoring it, contact him as it is for sale.

            What’s next for Lagos de Moreno Park? Mary and Diane have been working hard to gather funds to restore Lagos de Moreno Park creating Revitalize the Heart of Brea: Lagos de Moreno Park - Laurel Elementary. In the past, many of their attempts included applying for grants from major corporations such as Kohl’s, Avery Dennison’s and taking the Pepsi Refresh Challenge in 2010, offering a million dollars a month for playground equipment to the winning school based on votes. Unfortunately, they did not win, but to their delight they gained a lot of attention from the city and residents of Brea that led to the Laurel PTA members meeting with representatives of the City of Brea and Brea-Olinda School District on June 4, 2014, to discuss plans about revitalizing Lagos De Moreno Park-Laurel Elementary "lower" playground.

              On the agenda this summer is an open community forum. A date will be announced soon. Everyone is invited to lend a voice to the revitalization project of Lagos de Moreno Park. Mary and Diane ask that concerned citizens help spread the word to attend and assist in creating a concrete plan for ‘our gem’ of a park in the ‘Heart of Brea.’

                A special thanks to former Mayor Don Fox's wife Pat for the Lagos de Moreno articles of memorabilia and also to Mary and Diane, Laurel Elementary PTA members, for contacting Beautiful Brea Old and New Facebook to assist in spreading the word.

                  We can do it if we work together.

                    Carolyn Campbell
Author :

"Thank you" for visiting Beautiful Brea Old & New (BBON). First & foremost, I am a proud mother & wife. I am also a well-rounded independent contractor. But you can call me an enthusiastic cheerleader, supporting wholeheartedly the City of Brea --a charming town with character & innovation, turning 100 years old in 2017!

  • Carolyn Campbell

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