Park, built as the hub of the Tustin Meadows development in 1968 and
a wonderful place to stroll as well as a source of family fun, was
one of the first parks developed to serve a Tustin community. (Photo
courtesy Tustin Meadows Community Association)
Forty years ago Walnut, Sycamore and Redhill
Avenues south of Tustin passed through orange orchards and bean fields.
A wall erected around the Irvine Co.'s bean
field at the corner of Walnut and Red Hill was the first sign that a change
might be coming.
Soon everyone knew that the Irvine planning
staff was working on something. That something resulted in the property
being annexed to the city of Tustin. The Robert H. Grant Co. was
commissioned to build the first Irvine-developed community in which the
homeowner would own the land under his house, not lease it.
Nine hundred homes would be built surrounding
an 8 acre park to be designed by Erikson, Peters and Thomas, landscape
designers. Called Centennial Park in recognition of Tustin Meadows opening
during Tustin's centennial year of 1968, 100 years after Columbus Tustin
laid out the town, the oval shaped park would have a central meadow as well
as a myriad of recreational facilities.
The park, which was dedicated to the city of
Tustin, still offers great family fun with basketball, handball, and
volleyball courts, swing sets, sand, and jungle gyms as well as barbecues
and picnic facilities.
Six floor plans with 15 different elevations
were planned for the community, which was unusual in that its streets were
designed to discourage through traffic. Early prices of $19,995 to $29,995
made the community especially attractive, along with the community's many
amenities including two clubhouses with swimming pools.
Approximately 15,000 people visited during
Tustin Meadows grand opening, many taking advantage of horse-drawn surrey
tours of the property. Six hundred homes were sold the first year. Many of
the new residents became active in the city. Don Salterelli and Joe Langley
would both serve on the City Council and as mayor. Ursula Kennedy became the
first woman to be elected to the council. Jill Leach became editor of the
In June 1968 Tustin Mayor Tony Coco presented
Tustin's Annual Beautification Award to a Robert H. Grant representative at
the annual Chamber of Commerce dinner. A second trophy was given to the
Irvine Co. in recognition of its continuing beautification program.
The new development became a close-knit
community. A Tiny Tots preschool, baby sitting co-op, Dolphins swim team and
Tustin Meadows Woman's Club were organized, contributing to the small town
feeling. A Fourth of July celebration that began in 1968 continues today as
an annual parade.
There were no shopping centers, traffic
signals or schools in the area when construction started, but St. Cecilia's
Church, Thorman Intermediate and Currie Middle schools and medical
facilities as well as many shopping centers with fast food, restaurants,
groceries, gas stations and other facilities soon opened.
Tustin Meadows with massive trees,
beautifully landscaped yards, well-kept homes and community spirit is one of
Tustin's most attractive residential areas. Only the price has changed. Most
homes now sell in the high $400,000 and $500,000 range