Progress being made on long-planned Pacific Highlands Ranch park in Carmel Valley

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Renderings of three design plans for Gonzales Canyon Neighborhood Park in Pacific Highlands Ranch. Courtesy

By Karen Billing

Pacific Highlands Ranch (PHR) is inching closer to finally getting its long-awaited, fully-funded-since-2008, much-delayed Gonzales Canyon Neighborhood Park. Residents whose children have played on asphalt for six or seven years might be able to unleash their kids on fresh park greens by late next year.

Schmidt Design Group has completed a community-wide survey and drawn up three design alternatives for the park. It is the hope once the design is finalized it will go to the Carmel Valley Parks and Recreation Council for design review and city public hearings by June.

Beth Fischer, Pardee Homes division president, said they are committed to delivering the park by December of 2014.

The Carmel Valley Parks and Recreation Council established a Gonzales Canyon Neighborhood Park ad hoc committee at its March 5 meeting, with the idea being to get planning into the hands of people who actually live in Pacific Highlands Ranch.

The subcommittee’s intent is to build a dialogue so residents feel like the park represents what they want, according to Ken Farinksy, a CV Parks and Recreation Council board member who will serve on the committee.

“This has been one of the highest priorities of Pacific Highlands Ranch and we took it to a citywide vote in 2010 to make sure our community’s future happens. We want to make sure this park has the voice of Pacific Highlands Ranch so the new park committee includes five residents from PHR, including me,” said Manjeet Ranu, a Gonzales Canyon Neighborhood Park ad hoc committee member who is also the PHR representative on the Carmel Valley Community Planning Board. “We will be watching…There will be no more delays, this park is going to happen.”

The ad hoc committee will get busy on design details on Thursday, March 21, at 7 p.m. at the Carmel Valley Recreation Center (3777 Townsgate Dr, San Diego, 92130). A second meeting is planned for April 16 before the preferred alternative of three tentative design plans is submitted in May. Any community member is welcome and encouraged to attend.

City Council District 1 Councilmember Sherri Lightner was in attendance at the meeting, mentioning she first heard how important the park is to the community when she was first running for City Council in 2008.

“We’re very excited about it and I’m glad it’s moving forward finally,” Lightner said. “Sooner is better but do it right.”

JT Barr, senior associate with Schmidt Design Group, said they know how eager the community is to have the park and said Pardee Homes and the city is just as eager to get it done.

“The focus is on getting the park delivered. We’re looking forward to working with you to make this park a reality,” Barr said.

Schmidt did a survey to get feedback on the park’s design and Barr said it was one of the most highly responded to survey in his 12 years designing parks. They received more than 70 responses and the top 10 priorities were children’s play equipment (ages 5 to 12 ranked highest), shade trees, an open lawn, picnic tables, security lighting, swings, restroom buildings, shade structures, basketball and 2-to-5-year-old play equipment.

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