ACPG moves forward with park concept plan, with conditions

The county of San Diego Department of Parks and Recreation issued a Notice of Preparation of an Environmental Impact Report for the concept plan of the proposed Alpine County Park. A special meeting of the Alpine Community Planning Group on April 6, dis­cussion and public input was heard before the closing of comments concerning the EIR on April 7, at 5 p.m. After much discussion from the public and between the ACPG members, the following motion carried with 11 votes in favor, 2 absent, and one abstain.

The motion supported the Alpine County Park concept plan sub­ject to the review of the final design once the final EIR is completed. ACPG specifically requested that the county review the sustainability of watering the grass fields, the county work directly with Alpine Fire Protection District and San Diego County Fire on fire safety plans, and that the county review the feasibility of all-way stops at both entrances.

The proposed project encom­passes the development of an ap­proximately 25-acre active park that includes potential multi-use turf areas, baseball field, all-wheel area, bike skills area, recreational courts, fitness stations, leash-free dog area, restroom facilities, ad­ministrative facility/ranger station, equestrian staging with corral, na­ture play area, community garden, volunteer pad, picnic areas with shade structures, picnic tables, game table plaza, and trails. The project is located on South Grade Road between Deland Drive and Boulder Oaks Lane.

County of San Diego Depart­ment of Parks and Recreation Se­nior Project Manager Marcus Lu­bich presented an overview of the park’s design. He said the county understands that the property is part of a larger open space area, Wright’s Field. He said the county worked with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the California Department of Fish and Game to locate the park next to existing de­velopment and create one continu­ous open space area. Lubich said this is consistent with its preserve design guidelines.

“By doing this we are maximiz­ing this continuous open space, minimizing impact to sensitive species and we are reducing direct biological impact,” said Lubich. “Roughly 75% of the property is being preserved and we are devel­oping that 25 acres for a park with active and passive use.”

Lubich said the county expects to finalize its construction docu­ments and EIR by the end of 2021 or early 2022, and begin construc­tion late summer, early fall 2022. He said at this time the county is preparing the EIR and soliciting public on environmental issues that should be analyzed in the report.

After approximately 23 public comments, and a special presen­tation by the Preserve Alpine’s Heritage Facebook group, only two supported fully supported the current project concept plan. The rest spoke against the park in full, or in portion.

Major concerns were the addi­tional sports fields, noise pollution, wildfire and fire safety, the abil­ity to evacuate, water, the amount of parking, and many wanted a natural park that complemented Wright’s Field.

Julie Simper, PAH Steering Com­mittee chair said the group was formed in 2020, admittedly in op­position to the park plan.

“But we really are developing into something that is for Alpine, an awakening a little bit for our community, our neighbors, and maybe those who took Alpine for granted, to become community ad­vocates. And we are all neighbors,” she said. “Some may see this as a perfect place for building, others see it as a piece of land that is sa­cred, that is naturally connected to Wright’s Field, which is a special ecological preserve.”

Simper said initially they were happy to see the land purchased, and expected a small park, 10-15 acres, more aligned with the loca­tion.

“It is a lovely urban park,” she said. “Not a rural park next to a natural preserve. Animals, nature, sound does not recognize property lines. We are not against a park. We are against this park at this loca­tion. We welcome other opportuni­ties, other solutions. We question if this is really the park that Alpine wants.”

Simper said the PAH call to ac­tion to the ACGP is to reject the current park design, validate that a considerable number of residents have serious concerns and ques­tions, support a comprehensive survey on proposed park design and scope, explore reasonable al­ternatives, and harness community resources to find compromise and solutions.

ACPG Chair Travis Lyon said with the county’s purchase of 98 acres, it placed it into conservation and open space, preventing it from commercial or residential devel­opment. Over time, they have po­tentially preserved more than 365 acres in the center of Alpine. He said the county’s purchase makes this area unique and looking at the potential park site would not affect the current beauty found in Wright’s Field.

“I think that it is important to keep that in context, because I think a lot of times when you look at these maps it is hard to visualize what 25 acres looks like in the con­text of the greater Wright’s Field,” he said.

Lyon said he believes that many of the amenities could be flexible after the completion of the EIR,

“But the idea that the ACPG going back to the drawing board and finding property that has not existed over the past 20 years of searching for a place for a park is going to appear, and that we are going to connect them to trail sys­tems throughout our community that will be walkable, and navigate our terrain, I think it is absolutely ideal and I think it is unrealistic,” he said.

ACPG member Richard Saldano said that the county buying that property was “a steal” and that some big developer could have come in and turned that corner into a development of new homes.

“And there is probably nothing you could do about it,” he said. “As long as they went through the en­titlement process, they could make it work.”

Saldano said the land is SR2 zone, two per acre per homes, and could be developed. He said the only reason it has not been done so in the past is the ability to bring water to the area.

ACPG member George Barnett said the prior owner had an active residential subdivision application for 41 estate homes.

“It is only a matter of pricing until someone has the dollars to mitigate a development,” he said.

Lubich said he would be “quite frank” that the likelihood that the county would drop the project and look for a new location is no.

“We have spent a long time try­ing to find a park plan in Alpine that was suitable, met our criteria, had willing sellers,” he said. “We found that property, we think it is a good place for a park, and our intentions are to move forward with a park in this place.”

ACPG moves forward with park concept plan, with conditions

1 COMMENT

  1. Saldono’s comments were inflammatory and timed to scare the planning group to support the county. Water was never the “make or break” issue for this park, septic is. There are three choices for septic: 1. an infiltration field located on top of local aquifer shared by several wells, 2. hookup to septic at Olive View lane, if permitted would cost about two million, 3. onsite treatment with associated smell, also costing about two million.
    There were so many false comparisons and outright misrepresentations by Lyons, Saldono and Barnett, to name a few, that it was hard to score which of the park-advocate ACPG members won that contest. Watch the entire meeting on Preserve Alpine’s Heritage facebook page.

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