Vice president Cristiana Figueroa-Kaminsky of the LBA Woods Park Coalition tells the story of the formation of the Coalition in a recent interview:
When did the group form? What precipitated the forming of a group….what happened to move concerns to actually organizing?
The group did not officially form until January of 2014, when we submitted our articles of incorporation. We realized there was growing support for this because of the success of the petition drive and all the connections and queries we were getting.
What were the early campaign goals and first actions? When was the petition drive begun?
The petition drive began in April of 2012. For a long time, many people recognized that the higher purpose for the forest was for it to become a park, yet we needed to wait for the dust to settle regarding development proposals. The petition drive was originally begun for Trillium [now Ashton Woods], after the first Trillium proposal for development was denied by the courts. Further impetus came when we became aware that the Bentridge property could also be saved because, although it is already platted, the owner was willing to sell. The idea of conserving all of the 150 acres of forest was born.
What was the early reception like with the City?
Councilwoman Jeannine Roe was the first to embrace the idea enthusiastically. She has been our long-standing supporter—even when it seemed it was an impossible dream. Little by little, as people began to become familiar with the amazing potential for conservation of habitat and for recreation, many people became interested including members of PRAC [Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee],Council members and City staff.
How did you keep yourselves going? Any small stories to relate that will shed light on the early days of the group and campaign?
All along we believed in our cause and relied on each other for support—building upon each other’s strengths. Because it is the highest, best purpose for this beautiful land, we were, and remain, confident that our City will rise to the occasion and conserve it for the future.
A short story— A few days after the first big community meeting where we had over 150 people show up at WMS, we met again. We were elated, and Jeff, Deb and I gathered to open up a bottle of champagne and eat soup. We got a call from Brian stating that he needed us to come over to his house because it was going to be at least 7 by the time he got there, and he would be too tired to go anywhere else. We packed up our stuff, and went over to Kris and Brian’s. We’ve been meeting there ever since.