Rancho Santa Fe Association has plans to make their village "parks" an actual park. Right now the triangular, grassy slopes have no sidewalk that leads people there. It's mostly used by people walking their dogs — but there's no place to sit down to eat a lunch or enjoy the village ambience.
"The parks are an unfinished jewel sitting in the center of town that really need to be polished," resident Marion Dodson said.
More trees, benches and improved sidewalks could be coming soon now that the board of directors has opted to go for a combination of ideas in the alternatives known as two and four, putting a priority on amenities deemed important by residents.
Ivan Holler, covenant administrator, said the park work would be done in phases. Phase one would construct pop-outs, crosswalks and sidewalks along the park on Avenida de Acacias.
Phase two would reconfigure Linea del Cielo and El Tordo, primarily removing the island on Linea, and creating parallel parking on Linea ad La Gracia.
In the proposed third phase, decorative pavement would be installed in the five-way intersection with low walls put in the northern park along with benches and trees.
As the 40 submitted comments overwhelmingly supported benches, trees and sidewalk paving above all other options, Director Deb Plummer said they should consider making phase three their phase one.
"Those are the things that will have the biggest impact," Plummer said.
Association staff will come back with a final design as well as cost estimates at a future meeting. Preliminary estimates for the first phase would be $210,000, phase two would be $220,000 and phase three $394,000.
According to the surveys, respondents did not support adding pop-outs, the sidewalk enhancements like the one in front of the Rancho Santa Fe Pharmacy.
"I don't know their functionality," said Dodson, noting she prefers more parking over pop-outs.
People also wanted to see parts of the sloping parks be flattened out to make it easier to host special events like the 4th of July picnic.
Of the plans, alternative three got the most support with 14 of 39 votes. The option proposed joining the two parks in the middle and eliminating portions of Linea del Cielo and La Gracia in front of the Inn.
However, the Rancho Santa Fe Fire District told the association that closing those roads would make fire response very difficult, so the association decided not to pursue that option further.
Director Dick Doughty said he wasn't so sure they should toss out alternative three when the majority of people said they liked it.
Director Jack Queen said while alternative three did get the highest numbers of support, the sample size was very small.
"We may have to earn our pay by making a decision on what we feel is best," Queen said.
Residents at the Oct. 14 board meeting worried about the effects of alternative three on the streets, concerned it would push more traffic onto El Tordo. One resident also said fire department access is very important.
"I don't want to change the traffic flow, but I love the idea of shrinking it," said Director Kim Higgins.
Higgins said the important thing is to keep Rancho Santa Fe's character and not make any changes too big or "glitzy."