After several decades of residents trying to get an appropriate public park in Alpine, San Diego County officials are moving ahead on a proposal.
The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted 4-0, with one supervisor absent, on Jan.9 to set a Wednesday, Feb. 13, hearing date to buy 98 acres off South Grade Road for a county park and recreational facilities in the mountain community.
Most of the privately owned property that would be acquired abuts popular Wright’s Field, the 230-acre Back Country Land Trust natural preserve in the heart of Alpine.
“This endeavor has been challenging to say the least, as we’ve worked roughly 20-years trying to identify a suitable piece of property that could serve the recreational needs of the community,” Supervisor Dianne Jacob said in prepared remarks. “However, issue after issue (location, access, price, etc) popped-up and put a stop to any such efforts.”
Now, Jacob said, the county is finally building a park and the community will have an opportunity to “contribute to the design and amenities of this park, as the Department of Parks and Recreation will hold multiple public meetings to receive community input.”
The Back Country Land Trust (BCLT) maintains Wright’s Field, which is open to the public for hiking, biking, horseback riding, dog walking, stargazing and education.
“BCLT applauds the county and Supervisor Dianne Jacob for moving strongly with plans to secure additional parkland for Alpine,” BCLT Director and Officer George Barnett said in a statement.
Barnett said the land trust has contacted the county “and expressed every willingness to work with the county on ensuring both contiguous properties work well together in terms of community access and passive enjoyment.”
Jacob said that in addition to the Alpine Park project, she fully supports the community efforts to make improvements with active ball fields at Alpine’s Joan MacQueen Middle School.
“There is no question in my mind that we can do both and each project can complement one another,” the East County supervisor said. “There does not need to be any competition between projects.”
According to the county’s fiscal impact report, funds for the park are included in the Fiscal Year 2018-19 Operational Plan in the county’s Capital Outlay Fund.
If the project is approved, the park project would result in current year one-time costs of $1,621,500, the report said. It said most of that money --- $1,370,000 ----would be used to buy the property from the owner..
The rest, the report said, would be for staff time, appraisal review, closing and title costs and $2000 in one-time land protection costs
As outlined in the report, the total estimated annual ongoing cost for the proposed park would be $75,500.
In an overview of the park proposal for the Jan. 9 supervisors’ meeting it was noted that Alpine has no county park “and only 1.83 acres of parkland per 1,000 residents “ ---- less than the County General Plan goal of 10 acres of parkland per 1,000 residents.
The property acquired for the Alpine county park would be developed with one part “an active park and to conserve a substantial portion of the property as open space,” the overview said.
If the park proposal is approved, the next step would be for the county “to complete a thorough analysis of the land to determine what areas can be designated for active recreation,” Jessica Geiszler, county Parks and Recreation marketing and public outreach manager, wrote Feb. 17 in an e-mail response to Alpine Chamber of Commerce questions.
“It’s actually too soon to tell how the park will be laid out,” Geiszler said. “Once the team has completed an environmental review, they will present their ideas based on things like landscape, incline/decline, access points and the discovery of any sensitive plant/animal species.”
Geiszler said those details will be presented to the community at a future open house.
It’s too soon to say when a proposed county park might be completed, she said.
“We work every day to balance recreation with preservation, and the goal is to provide the greatest possible benefits to all residents,” Geiszler said.