By Ed Fletcher
Forty-three years ago, 19-year-old Phil Angelides challenged Burnett Miller for his Sacramento City Council seat. On Monday, Angelides, now a developer, honored his former rival by dedicating Burnett Miller Park in his new McKinley Village project.
The two men, longtime family friends who share a love of tennis, laughed Monday about the rivalry as they stood next to other dignitaries to sink gold-painted shovels into the rain-softened soil. Miller fended off Angelides’ challenge, winning with 57 percent of the vote. He served on the council from 1971 to 1977, representing District 3. He was selected by the City Council in 1982 to serve out the remaining term of Phillip Isenberg, who was elected to the state Assembly.
The 1-acre park is at the center of McKinley Village, an infill development rising along the Capital City Freeway in East Sacramento. The McKinley Village community plan includes 336 homes, a community clubhouse, five city parks and a community garden. It is being developed by The New Home Co. and Angelides’ Riverview Capital Investments.
Angelides spent many years as a developer in Sacramento before being elected California treasurer, a job he held from 1999 to 2007. In 2006, he mounted an unsuccessful campaign for governor against Arnold Schwarzenegger. After his time in public office, Angelides resumed his development career with McKinley Village.
At Miller’s request, the new park will include a pickleball court once it is complete this summer. Miller, who still plays tennis at 94, said he would have preferred a tennis court, but will settle for pickleball, a racket sport with a smaller footprint.
“Maybe I’ll start playing pickleball,” Miller said.
Under clear skies Monday, five former Sacramento mayors and the current occupant of the position, Darrell Steinberg, assembled to participate in the dedication. The city’s most recent mayor, Kevin Johnson, was not present, but Heather Fargo, Jimmie Yee, Anne Rudin and Isenberg attended.
“It’s a great honor,” said Miller of the park bearing his name. “All the streets here are named after former artists. Almost all of them were friends of mine, so it’s comfortable being in the place with my old friends.”
Born in Sacramento in 1923, Miller earned a Purple Heart and Silver Star for his service in the U.S. 11th Armored Division during World War II. His family’s Burnett & Sons Planing Mill and Lumber Co. was founded in 1869. He is a strong supporter of the arts and led fundraising efforts for Crocker Art Museum and the Center for Sacramento History.
The park will primarily serve the residents of the new development but will be open to the entire community, officials said. The park will be maintained by fees paid by residents, said Christopher Conlin, the city’s parks director. Older city parks are developed and maintained using the city’s general fund.