Winter 2013

Dr. Joe Cortese Dog Park Coming Soon!

Plans for Reata Park and Event Center Move Forward

More Improvements Coming to 2C Ranch

Reaching Our Goals Through Grants

Volunteer Spotlight - Rhonda Kreger, Newmeyer & Dillion LLP


Have you ever wondered what it takes for Foundation volunteers to transform unusable open space into an area that is accessible to all?

See our volunteers in action as they work on some of our recent projects -
Northwest Open Space Staging Area and 2C Ranch. Also, take a look at our upcoming project  - Reata Park and Event Center - to see 
  "before" photos of this site. Make sure to check back regularly to see more pictures of this work in progress.  


Brad Gates, President
Dick Paulsen, V.P. 
and Treasurer
Tim Neely, Secretary
Mike Barth
Greg Dillion
Mike Evans
Matt Gaffney
Al King
Mark Nielsen
Tom Ostensen
Derek Ostensen, Conservation Consultant
Robert R. Redwitz, CPA


San Juan Capistrano
Open Space Foundation is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit public benefit corporation that was established in
January 2009.

Our mission is to acquire and promote the preservation, restoration, expansion, improvement and public use of open space within the City of San Juan Capistrano to enrich the quality of life for area residents.

Dr. Joe Cortese Dog Park Coming Soon!
The wait is almost over! Construction begins this month on the Dr. Joe Cortese Dog Park, located in the city's northwest open space. A groundbreaking ceremony was held on January 23 with Mayor John Taylor, Council Member Larry Kramer, Goldee Cortese, and members of the Capistrano Animal Rescue Effort (CARE), and the Open Space FoundationFoundation volunteers will be physically working on the site, as well as preparing all of the necessary paperwork and raising money to cover construction costs. If there are no weather-related delays, the dog park is expected to open to the public in April. 
Groundbreaking ceremony for the Dr. Joe Cortese Dog Park

The dog park is named in memory of local veterinarian Dr. Joe Cortese, a passionate leader of veterinary medicine who made a lasting impact on everyone he encountered. Dr. Cortese's name will forever live on through the first dedicated dog park in San Juan Capistrano.  


Special thanks to Foundation board member Matt Gaffney who facilitated the partnership with CARE, and for CARE's generous donation of $51,000 toward the construction of fencing, benches and picnic tables. These funds will enable us to make the dog park operational, but donations are still needed for additional improvements. Your donation will go toward wonderful features such as dog water fixtures, shade structures and more. Donate today and help us make the dog park the best it can be!


Honor your pet and support the Dr. Joe Cortese Dog Park! A great way to support the project is to have your name and your dog's name etched on a name plate ($200). You can also have your name etched on the stone memorial ($2,000), and/or make a contribution to the project's general fund. Please visit the Foundation's website for more information.   


Plans for Reata Park and Event Center 
Move Forward

The City Council has approved design plans for the Reata Park and Event Center. Construction of the park, estimated to cost $2.7 million, is being funded by donations raised and grants received by the Open Space Foundation. The new park is off of Ortega Highway on an 18-acre portion of the city's eastern open space (this is part of the 132 acres of prime property purchased by the city in 2010 at fair market value from Rancho Mission Viejo and includes the 75 acres that is the city's riding park). Plans for Reata Park and Event Center include refurbishing a ranch house into a visitor center, and refurbishing other buildings into historical and presentation centers. An equestrian staging area, native landscaping, parking, trails and restrooms will also be added. Phase 1 construction will begin in February and should be finished by the end of 2013.

An aerial view of the Reata Park and Event Center site


Reata Park donations are needed and volunteers are being recruited now! If you like rolling up your sleeves and working outdoors -- activities like clearing brush, trimming trees or building fences -- we would love to hear from you. Other than professional engineering and design, all work is done by Foundation volunteers. Send us an email if you are interested in volunteering on this or any other Foundation project. Volunteering is fun, great exercise, helps the community, and builds great camaraderie!


More Improvements Coming to 2C Ranch
The Foundation will be installing a similar monument at the
2C Ranch site

Open space improvements to 2C Ranch were completed by Foundation volunteers last spring, and include picnic tables, split rail fencing, a watering trough and hitching post. Twenty volunteers also cleared away invasive weeds and dead trees to improve accessThe City Council recently granted a site access license for the Foundation to build a monument at the site. The stone-faced memorial will be topped by brick and a brass plaque honoring 2C Ranch, the last working cattle ranch in San Juan Capistrano. 


In October, the city officially added four trails located on the 2C Ranch property to its Master Plan of Trails. These trails - named the 2C Ranch Trail, Trabuco Creek West Bank, Trabuco Creek Trail and Foster Trail - will now be maintained by the city. In addition, the city will be placing ten trail signs and eight trail head signs along these four trails. The new trail head signs will include a barcode that can be scanned with smart phones to access emergency information. Trail users can look forward to increased safety and enjoyment thanks to these new developments.


Reaching Our Goals Through Grants
The Foundation soars to new heights through grants

Each year, Foundation volunteers work on improvements to public open space throughout our city. This may include adding fencing, grading parking lots, putting in picnic tables, and clearing away brush so that the property is safe and accessible. 


Volunteers donate their time to install the improvements, but large amounts of funding are needed to pay for materials, engineering, and architectural services. Since we are working with the city on public property, there are many legal hoops to jump through, including licensing and insurance. The cost of these required supplies and services add up quickly. For example, the Foundation raised approximately $11,000 for 2C Ranch materials alone, on top of the hundreds of volunteer hours that were also contributed -- and that is just one of our many projects that make our public open space usable and safe.


How do we raise the large amount of funding needed for these projects? In addition to membership dues and contributions, the Foundation seeks additional funding through grants. We look for grants that cover Foundation operations and costs, as well as grants designated for park construction, habitat restoration, and open space improvements. 


We are always exploring new opportunities for grant funding. In 2013, we will be submitting applications for grants offered by Pacific Life, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and several other local business and family foundations that are interested in supporting open space in San Juan Capistrano. These foundations support open space for many reasons -- such as perserving flora and fauna, protecting scenic beauty, and leaving a lasting legacy for future generations -- and we tap into those interests. 


Grant funding is a key component of the Foundation's efforts to make our open space usable and accessible, but your donations and membership are equally vital to our success. We value your ongoing support and will continue to keep you updated on our progress.


Volunteer Spotlight - Rhonda Kreger, Newmeyer & Dillion LLP
While some of our volunteers work outdoors building fences and clearing brush, we also need dedicated volunteers working behind the scenes to keep our non-profit organization running smoothly.

Rhonda K. Kreger, associate at the Newport Beach office of Newmeyer & Dillion LLP, is an invaluable member of the Foundation's volunteer team. Working alongside law firm partner and Foundation board member Greg Dillion, her effort and diligence help make our projects a reality. She is a member of the Transactional Department at Newmeyer & Dillion and focuses on all aspects of commercial real estate law. Rhonda has donated hundreds of hours to help us navigate the complicated process of contractor licenses, negotiate subcontractor agreements, and ensure that the board's administrative paperwork is in order.

Growing up in south Orange County, Rhonda enjoyed hiking and climbing the nearby hills and appreciates the scenic beauty of San Juan Capistrano that remains to this day. The Foundation offers our deepest thanks to Rhonda and Newmeyer & Dillion for helping us in our mission to protect our open space and make it usable and accessible to all.