Ocean Air Park takes shape

At the end of East Ocean Air Drive in Carmel Valley, the future Ocean Air Park is taking shape.

Time has flown by since April, when nearly 100 neighbors witnessed a groundbreaking ceremony performed by an enthusiastic bunch of neighborhood children.

The 16,000-square-foot recreation center is now built and it's brick façade with wood details looms over the mostly dirt 15-acre park. Picnic tables, trash receptacles, park lights and children's playground equipment are already installed.

The parking lot is finished, save for the stripes, and a wide winding path leads through the park to neighboring Ocean Air School.

"It's moving along terrifically," said Steve Pond, area director for San Diego Parks and Recreation. "The project is just fabulous."

Grass has to be grown, outdoor sports courts need to be paved and interior touches have yet to be made to the center, but everything is on schedule for a July 2009 opening, Pond said.

Play space

When completed, Ocean Air Park will include a large grassy play area, picnic areas, outdoor basketball courts and joint-use soccer and baseball/softball fields that will be shared with Ocean Air School.

The recreation center will house an 11,000-square-foot gym with meeting and activity rooms and a kitchen. Activities in the recreation center will be similar to those held at the Carmel Valley Recreation Center, such as volleyball, gymnastics, dance classes and more.

Those program decisions will be made by the Ocean Air Recreation Council (OARC), which was made official Nov. 20 by the San Diego Parks and Recreation Department and the San Diego City Council.

Officers elected soon

The unanimous vote was great news for a group already getting very involved and moving forward, Pond said.

The group has had 25 to 30 people show up for monthly meetings to discuss what kinds of programs they want for their community center. The group will be electing officers at their next meeting Dec. 16.

The fast clip at which they are moving is impressive and exciting, Pond said. A program committee has already been formed and they are currently seeking contractors to put on the youth and adult activities at the center.

John Barker, a member of the OARC, said they are looking for independent contractors to provide "enriching and engaging" education programs such as cooking, nutrition and language classes, and a homework club, as well as sports programs such as youth and adult leagues, badminton, dance, gymnastics and yoga.

While the park and recreation center are expected to open in July, programs should start around September, Pond said.

Growing grass

The park's playing space is perhaps most important to neighboring Ocean Air School as it opened in fall of 2007 without playing fields. Students currently enjoy recess and physical education classes on a blacktop.

Ocean Air Park's green grass will be a "hearty" high-blend of Bermuda, a warm weather grass.

Pond said that grass would start coming into the park in April or May of 2009, using "stolons." Stolon is grass grown elsewhere that is gathered up, root systems and all, and then transferred and shot out all over the field. The stolons come up faster than sod, Pond said.

Suggestions from the public regarding the Ocean Air Recreation Center's programs are encouraged. E-mail

oceanairrc@gmail.com

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