Alpine park plan progresses

On Dec. 6, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to move forward with the construction of the Alpine Community Park. In doing so, the BOS adopted and certified the Alpine Park Environmental Impact Report, the Mitigation, Monitoring, and Reporting Program. The vote also adopted a resolution amending a master resolution to establish an all-way crossing to support pedestrian and bicyclist crossing at the South Grade Road and Calle de Compadres intersection. Further, it authorized the Department of Purchasing and Contracting director to advertise and award a construction contract for an estimated Phase 1 construction cost of $11,400,000. Additional project funds of $10,600,000 for related project cost for a total Phase 1 project cost of $22 million. The total Alpine Community Park project is estimated to cost $45,575,000 for all phases and all amenities. Phase 1 construction will begin in Spring 2024 and is expected to be completed in Winter 2025, according to the staff report.

Upon completion of this project, ongoing operations are estimated at $373,712 annually, which will include staffing, utility costs, maintenance supplies and services. An estimated $175,890 will fund 2 additional full-time staff, and $197,822 will cover ongoing services and supplies costs. The park is projected to open in FY 2025-26, and these costs will be included in future Operational Plans.

The park involves two phases of construction. Phase I is in the northern part of the park, roughly 10 acres. This construction will include utilities, northern trail connections, playgrounds, off-leash dog area, equestrian staging area, picnic areas, community garden, park office and restrooms, sports courts and parking. According to the County, of the 98 acres purchased in March 2018, 26 will be developed for active recreation, with features to suit Alpine residents of all ages, abilities and interests, offering a safe place to play for those who do not have access to open space from their homes. The remaining 72 acres of the land, which serve as a natural barrier between the park and Wright’s Field, will remain open space preserve.

The Alpine Community Planning Group voted to support the project on April 6, 2021.

At the meeting, there were 25 speakers, 149 e-comments, 38 in favor, 105 in opposition, and three neutral.

Alpine Community Planning Group Chair Travis Lyon said that every amenity proposed for the park has had many people say these amenities were “lacking” in Alpine. He said the skate park and bike park has received much enthusiasm, but what he sees is the grass areas and open expanse. He said that he is excited about the location of the actual park, which is away from Wright’s Field, the ecological preserve. He said living across the street from the project, he said he cannot think of a better result for Wright’s Field in protecting it and preserving it.

“This has received tremendous support in our community. The school district, the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians, the chamber of commerce, American Youth Soccer League. I trust that you will not let another generation of kids go without a park in Alpine,” he said.

George Barnett said he applauded the Board’s commitment to the park.

“According to the school accountability report cards, 47% of our students identify as non-white, 23% are a combination of English learners, foster care youth, homeless, and students with disabilities, 32% identify as socially, economically disadvantaged,” he said. “The Alpine Community Park will address longstanding social inequity.”

James Mason, a 30-year resident of Alpine, and board member of Preserve Alpine’s Heritage said the fact that the park is on over 500 acres of national heritage is what is at stake and asked that the decision be postponed until a legally adequate EIR is in circulation, and then consider a natural park for this site, which will do far much less damage to the environment.

“It is designed such, the damage from light, sound, and all these will transpire across those areas,” he said, adding that law firm Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger’s analysis showed that the EIR is “fraught with error in this regard…using outdated population estimates that are inflated… the amount of growth is dramatically less than initially placed in the county’s estimations in the proposal for this park…This property is designated by the Multiple Species Conservation Program designated as an ecologically core area. In addition, there are significant public safety questions as well as fire risks, all of which are challenged legally.”

Julie Simper asked that the board not consider the current design of the park.

“As many of our community members, we are not against a park, or a park in this location” she said. “But we are against this park in this location,” adding that they were told to expect a park about half this size, more nature-based, and more respectful of the location. “We have been told not to complain. If we do not support a park of this size, we will not get anything. We have even been told by some of our local and county leadership fear tactics, that if we do not use it as a park, it will be used for low-income housing. They have weaponized that. Every time you asked for our public input, we stepped up. Thousands of community members have answered your calls for public comment. We have organized as a community against large organizations like the county, associations, and yet every single time it is about two-thirds of the community that come back and say that we are concerned about this design, and this is not what we want.”

District 2 Supervisor Joel Anderson said that he has lived in Alpine for 35 years in the same house.

“That park was promised to my children. Now I have grandchildren,” he said. “I would like for my grandchildren to play in it in my lifetime. While appreciate all the rich people that live across the street from the park, that live in a gated community, and how they have room on their own property for their children to play in, there are a lot of poor kids in Alpine that have no place to play. This will be the first and only park in Alpine. I have had many caucuses that have come and spoken to me, and I have been very open minded. But using the tactic that they are for the park but not here, but not with this, or not with that, they are not for the park. They have a park. It is called a backyard. The kids living in the apartments. The kids that want to play little league baseball do not have a park. Yes, it is true, we have some schools, and we have some ballfields, but during COVID for two years, they had no access to any of it. This park would provide for that. It is one ballfield.

“I do not agree with everything in the park because I am not going to use all of it. But I appreciate that it is a regional park with something for everybody except those who would deny other people’s children access to a park. They are looking for perfect when literally the people need good. And this is really good for our community. We hear from the planning chair. He got elected in Alpine and I got elected in Alpine. He would never be elected if everybody was opposing it. If this were 50% plus one were opposed, nobody in that planning group would have been elected. But they all got elected because the vast majority of people that have kids do not have time to call in or come down here. They are too busy taking their kids to El Cajon, to Lakeside, so they can use soccer fields and baseball fields there. They are in their cars all the time creating carbon because there is nothing in their backyard. We have 20,000 people in the greater Alpine area. We deserve a park. It has been too long.”


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