Since the 1990s, the county of San Diego Parks & Recreation Department worked with the Alpine Community Planning Group and other stakeholders to obtain a suitable community park location. Many locations were evaluated and ruled out until the County purchased the 98-acre parcel of land with intent to build an active recreation area from Wright’s Field Partnership, LLC on March 4, 2019 for $1,621,500. Of the 90 acres, approximately 26-acres will be developed for the Alpine County Park. The remaining acres will remain open space preserve.
The cost of the park is estimated at $28 million, and park construction will move forward in three phases. Some of the amenities within the park are multi-use trails, all-wheel park, pickleball and basketball courts, baseball field, fitness stations, nature play area, playgrounds, equestrian staging area, and a multi-use turf area. DPR held four public outreach sessions for the park, the first on May 15, 2019. The fourth and final outreach was held on Jan. 14, with the conceptual park design.
Currently in Phase 1, the process includes land acquisition, park design, environmental permits and processes, preliminary construction, and creation of trails and multi-use staging areas. Completing Phase 1 includes a community garden, dog park, nature play area, sports courts and more amenities. Construction of Phase 1 is slated for fall/winter 2021. Phase 2 takes place in Fiscal Year 2022/2023, building a baseball field, multi-purpose turf area, all-wheel area, more trails. amenities and parking. Phase 3, in FY 23/24, entails expanding the multi-use turf area and trail system and adding fitness stations, a bike skills course and other basic amenities.
DPR Senior Park Project Manager Nina Pisano said Phase 1 is underway, and the concept design is complete. She said the next process is construction documents, a more detailed design working with utilities, connections, and more park construction requirements.
“Also, we did the baseline environmental surveys already, but now that we have a concept design, we take that concept design and start doing all of the detailed California Environmental Quality Act work based on that concept design,” she said.
Pisano said the CEQA analysis, and the complete construction design package will take until the end of 2021. The Subsequential Environmental Impact Report is up for community input until April 8. Once design and CEQA analysis are complete, DPR will obtain required permits and can begin construction once funding for Phase 1 is secured. To date, $6.5 million has been secured for this project, which includes funding for land acquisition, design and environmental analysis. Funding for Phase 1 construction is requested for FY 21/22.
Pisano said the all-wheel area will look like a skate park, but will be open to skateboards, roller blades, scooters, bikes and more. She said because Alpine has a strong equestrian community, the addition of equestrian staging areas will allow people to pull in their trailers, take out their horses, get them staged and ready for riding the trails accessible to equestrians.
“Equestrian staging areas has been one of the requests received by the community to make sure that we have equestrian access to the trails,” said Marcus Lubich, DPR Senior Park Project manager.
Jessica Geiszler, DPR Marketing & Community Outreach manager said this park is for everyone, not just a small group of people.
“We have built many amenities into it, so it is diverse, it appeals to people of all ages, all interests, and also abilities,” she said. “The all-wheel park, you can take a wheelchair. There are a lot of cool things that you can do within the property. Alpine and its community has changed a lot over time, it is growing, and we wanted a recreational space that is all inclusive that really did reflect everybody in the community and not a core group here and there.”
But the new park has not come without criticism. In public comments at Alpine Community Planning Group meetings there has been criticism about the safety of South Grade Road leading up to the new park, the impact on Wright’s Field, and the County’s lack of action in upgrading the recreational parks at Joan MacQueen Middle School.
Marcus Lubich, DPR Senior Park Project manager said he knows people in the community have expressed concern on the park’s impact on Wright’s Field. He said although they are building a park, what they are also doing is “creating more eyes and presence” in Wright’s Field.
“Our rangers will be educating hikers, we will be closing down road trails and restoring those areas,” he said. “Right now, in Wright’s Field there is a problem with road trails, mountain bikers, bikers creating jumps in the preserve. Part of what we are doing is providing a bike skills course where those folks will not necessarily have to do that in the field anymore. We will have a structured place for them to have jumps made of dirt and get that activity outside of Wright’s Field and into the park, which I think will help improve Wright’s Field.”
Pisano said DPR is in discussion for the refurbishment of sports fields with Joan MacQueen Middle school because they know how heavily those facilities are used. She said this project also showed them the increased need for additional facilities in Alpine.
“Alpine has no public park facilities,” said Pisano. “Those facilities at the school district are sometimes open to the public, but not during school hours. All those facilities are closed during school hours and the schools also gets priority of them for after school occasions so this park will be the first all-day open to the public park public facilities that the community of Alpine will have.”
Pisano said its traffic study is based on the park, both internally and externally with the park’s entries and exits. She said they will look at intersections off South Grade Road and determine what is needed in terms of site of lines for safe entry and exit.
For more information about the Park Concept Plan, outreach meeting summaries, and frequently asked questions, visit www.sdparks.org/content/ sdparks/en/park-pages/AlpineCountyPark.
A previous version of this story erroneously reported the purchase price of a 98-acre parcel of land by the county. The correct amount is $1,621,500.