The Alpine Community Planning Group will hold a special meeting on April 6 so that the group can consider, and make recommendations about the public commenting period on the environmental impact report. The time for public input on the Environmental Impact Report is 5 p.m., on April 7.
ACPG Chair Travis Lyon announced the notice of preparation for the county’s EIR, and said he plans to have someone from the county to attend the special meeting and answer questions. He also said he would reach out to the Preserve Alpine’s Heritage, a Facebook page that began Sept. 26, 2020 as Save Wrights Field, changing its name on Jan. 2. PAH states that it is a pending nonprofit.
Lyon said he would reach out to members of PAH specifically to see if it could give a special presentation, up to 15 minutes.
After much criticism of the ACPG not fully reading public comments, or grouping public comments of the same nature, Lyon allowed public comments virtually for the March 25 meeting, giving residents a chance to speak publicly to the group.
Julie Simper said she was thankful and welcomed the new format to avoid misrepresentation, but also to foster mutual understanding, respect and collaboration. She said PAH promotes meaningful collaboration and creative partnerships with key stake holders and public representative like APCG.
“We truly do embrace a diversity of views and we are working towards the common goal of providing innovative, sustainable and financially responsible solutions that will bring the desired facilities and services to Alpine,” she said. “However, we believe that we must preserve unique actual cultural and rural heritage of our community.”
Simper said PAH strongly opposes the 26 acre all-in-one park next to Wright’s Field nature reserve. She said there are too many serious concerns and unanswered questions that justify proceeding with Alpine County Park as proposed.
“However, we do support developing a nature-based park at this location,” she said. “A park that minimizes the impact on the environment. The rural setting provides appropriate recreational activities that respect and complement the preserve and protects the preserve from habitat destruction.”
Simper said Alpine can do better than “one park fraught with design flaws” and located so far from the town’s center. She said other towns have successfully created a network of small local parks that offer needed recreational activities throughout town. She said the benefit of a network of small local parks are far reaching and community wide.
“Easier access for all, increased safety, revitalization of existing facilities, less environmental impact, increased physical activities, and connection to other resources such as schools, public transportation, libraries, and local businesses,” she said. “Broadly connected by a system of walkways, bike paths, and trails. Alpine already has existing parks and sports facilities that are underutilized and in need of attention.”
Courtney Norton said she was discouraged and appalled after the last meeting on how the members of the ACGP reacted to public participation in the meetings. She is a member of PAH and said its members are also volunteering time, energy, and resources to make a difference for the Alpine community.
She emphasized that PAH wanted to work with ACPG, focusing on dialogue, collaboration, and ultimately, a mutual compromise in the finding best solutions for all residents of Alpine.
“If you do not have time to listen to the community, the in my opinion, you are not living up to the community’s or the ACGP’s expectation,” she said.
Norton said her personal concerns for the proposed park is the environmental impact it will have on Wright’s Field’s ecology.
“With the development of a park of this magnitude, it is completely naive to say that the park will not have impact on Wright’s Field proper,” she said. “We are blessed as residents of Alpine to have this preserve which is part of the south county multi-species conservation plan and has native grasslands which are rare habitats in San Diego County. Once this land is gone, it is gone forever.”
Jonah Gula was born and raised in Alpine, and said as an ecologist, his largest objections to the park are environmental.
“Ninety-nine percent of California’s grasslands have been lost and almost as near here in San Diego County,” he said. “Most people think that things like deforestation, climate change are real issues threatening our communities and the future of our environment. I really believe that it is decisions at the local level that are one of the greatest threats to diminishing sensitive ecosystems, like that of Wright’s Field. Since this planning group is one of those bodies of people that make these decisions at a local level, I am holding groups like this responsible for this perpetual chipping away of open spaces, not only in San Diego, not only in California, but across the U.S.”
Dominique Norton spoke about previous statements from the county, including a July 7, 2005 letter from former parks and recreation director Renee Bahl that stated the county did not support developing Wright’s Field into an active park, due to its ecological importance in the region.
“What has changed in the last 16 years? Why is not the ACPG pushing back on the county based on their previous correspondences and opinions?” she asked.
ACPG member Justin Johnston said it is great to see people coming together regardless of their position on a certain topic.
“To see people coming together and doing that outside on their own,” he said. “I think that is a common value with all of us. I would like to explore whatever opportunities that I can to find out about this new Preserve Alpine Heritage group and see if there is anything that I can do to understand what they are doing in the community.”
Comments on the Alpine County Park Project’s EIR can be sent to County of San Diego, Department of Parks and Recreation. Attn: Alpine County Park Environmental Review, 5500 Overland Ave., Suite 410, San Diego, CA 92123 or emailed to CountyParksCEQA@sdcounty.ca.gov.
To attend ACPG’s special meeting on Tuesday, April 6 at 6 p.m., join virtually via Zoom at https:// us02web.zoom.us/j/84714643728 – Call in 1-669-900-6833 Meeting ID 847 1464 3728.
Additional information on the Alpine County Park project can be found at:
SD Parks NOP Attachment – www.sdparks.org/content/dam/ sdparks/en/pdf/Resource-Management/NOP%20Alpine%20Park%20 Attachment.pdf.
SD Parks Alpine Community Park Frequently Asked Questions – www.sdparks.org/content/dam/ sdparks/en/pdf/Development/ Updated%20Alpine%20FAQ%20%20 2.2.21.pdf.
Proposed Park Concept Plan – www.sdparks.org/content/dam/ sdparks/en/pdf/Resource-Management/Alpine%20County%20Park%20 Proposed%20Park%20Plan.pdf.