By Jeong Park
Sustainable farming could breathe new life into Union Pacific Park near Fullerton’s downtown.
The 1.7-acre park was closed off by the city nearly a decade ago, but a proposal by the nonprofit Renewable Farms that would develop part of the property with an urban farm using aquaponics could make way for recreational use by the community again.
The city recently entered into an exclusive negotiation agreement with Renewable Farms, which runs a similar facility, the Riverbed in Anaheim, to develop options for development. Public recreational amenities such as a playground or a trail would accompany the farm, said Hugo Curiel, the city’s director of parks and recreation.
The city bought the property from Union Pacific Railroad in 1998 for $1.3 million and spent another $1.2 million in 2003 to convert it into a park. But portions had to be closed soon after because of contaminated soil discovered. Later, around 2009, the city decided to close the rest of the park because of what city staffers described as “illicit uses.”