If they build it, will staff come?

Funding uncertainty remains for Ocean Air Park

As citywide parks and recreation cuts went into effect in January, progress continued at Ocean Air Park, which will be home to a brand new recreation center.

Torrey Hills community representatives already watched the Carmel Valley Skatepark lose its supervision just two months after it opened. Now they wonder whether the city will be able to staff their new recreation center when it's completed in July.

"There's a big worry that the building might not actually open because it won't have staff, that it might not happen for a year or more," Torrey Hills Community Planning Board member Rob Mullally said to fellow board members at their Jan. 20 meeting.

When asked how the city's budget crunch would affect Ocean Air, Clay Bingham, the District 1 deputy director of Parks and Recreation, said it's just too early to tell.

"We just don't know what will happen," Bingham said. "The honest answer is we know we have a challenge and we're working on dealing with it."

Options for help

There were rumblings at the Torrey Hills meeting about the YMCA possibly coming in to staff the center if the city cannot.

Bingham would not comment on that possibility but said he would address it at this month's Ocean Air Recreation Council meeting at 7 p.m. Feb. 24 at the Carmel Valley Recreation Center.

Board members also talked about the possibility of single-family homes in the neighborhood paying for trash collection services to help generate funds for the Parks and Recreation Department.

In order for that to happen, a city ordinance would have to be changed.

For a city ordinance to change it would have to be voted on, put on the ballot by city council or by petition, Mullally said. He said it has been tried by the city in the past, unsuccessfully,

The board said they would discuss the issue at their next meeting, Feb. 17, at Torrey Hills School.

Park progresses

According to Kris Shakelford, completion of the 15-acre park and its 16,000-square-foot recreation center is on target for July.

The exterior stucco and stone of the center were completed in December, in a beautiful patchwork pattern with alternating neutral colors.

Sun shades already cast shadows over the playground equipment, tables with benches are set up and some landscaping detail has been placed at the park's entrance on East Ocean Air. Fresh green grass is growing on the slope leading down from the Carmel Mountain Preserve.

The 11,000-square-foot gym is a sight - the space looks enormous, with brick walls and a huge domed ceiling with descending basketball backboards.

The hoops are already up on the outdoor basketball court in the far corner of the park.

This month Shackelford said they plan to install roof solar panels, window glass and doors, light poles and continue with tree planting.

The grass project on the lighted play fields, which will be jointly used by neighboring Ocean Air School, will start in April. Shacklelford said it needs hot weather to germinate properly so it will also be online for a July opening.

Upcoming

  • Ocean Air Recreation Council meeting
  • Feb. 24, 7 p.m.
  • Carmel Valley Recreation Center
   
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