Del Mar council OKs online poll on Shores Park use

Del Mar voters will soon have a chance to help shape a master plan for Del Mar Shores Park.

The Del Mar City Council on March 2 unanimously approved the release of an online survey that will allow one registered voter per household to share thoughts on potential park uses. The survey also covers the survey taker’s recreation activities, park visitation habits, perceived parks and recreation needs, and demographic information.

“The purpose of this survey is to discover what people like to do for recreation, rather than the survey being specifically focused on how people use the Shores park today,” said Kristen Crane, assistant to the city manager. “The survey explores the community’s recreational interests because those activities will influence their demand for the different facilities and amenities that the park will have.”

Conducted by Encinitas-based True North Research, survey invitations will be mailed in mid-March. Letters will include a unique password. After about a week, True North will follow up by phone with nonresponders.

“The phone is a second pass through that will help boost overall participation and also balance out the profile of the participating households,” said Dr. Timothy McLarney, president of True North.

Unlike with the recent citizen satisfaction survey and City Hall poll, only one registered voter per household will be invited to participate in this survey. McLarney explained that this method avoids duplicate responses that might occur if more than one person per household responded.

Resident Bill Michalsky, however, said it was “mind-boggling” that all registered voters wouldn’t be allowed to participate, noting that voters in the same household could have differing views.

Initially, the survey was planned for mid-January, but the council delayed it so it wouldn’t interfere with the City Hall poll.

“I really have concerns about the timing,” said Councilman Don Mosier at the time, adding that residents also recently participated in the citizen satisfaction survey. “In my mind, the City Hall survey is going to go out and should have priority over the Shores master plan because the timeline is much tighter.”

Since council members expressed their concerns about timing, Crane said True North consulted with Everyone Counts, the consultant hired to conduct the city hall poll. After comparing the surveys and methodologies, True North “expressed that the survey methods are sufficiently distinct,” Crane said.

The survey is just one step in the master plan process, which is expected to take a little more than a year and to include several opportunities for public input.

It will be completed in three phases, the first of which will focus on taking an inventory of the site and learning how community members want to use the park. Besides the survey, the first phase will include interest group interviews, informational pop-up booths at community events and an on-site workshop May 2 called “Plan Your Park.” The city will also use its online Web tool, Mind Mixer, to gather feedback from the community.

The first phase kicked off November 2014 and is expected to run through May 2015. The city has already conducted 12 interest group interviews.

“This survey is just one component of phase one of the master plan process, which is focused on discovering what people like to do for recreation,” Crane said.

“The findings of this survey will be part of the overall consideration process for looking at the possible amenities to include on the site, combined with the other findings from all these different things that we’re doing during this first phase. It’s just one of the methods of input.”

The council voted in August 2007 to buy the $8.5 million property from the school district, aiming to preserve open space and recreational uses, continue operating The Winston School, and initiate a master plan process. The long-range plan will guide the development of the 5.3-acre park along Camino del Mar.

Last spring, the council established the Shores Advisory Committee. Eight residents were appointed to the committee, which began meeting in June. Headed by council liaisons Deputy Mayor Sherryl Parks and Councilman Terry Sinnott, the committee oversees the master plan process and provides input to the council.

In October, the council awarded a $150,000 contract to Schmidt Design Group to produce a site plan.

True North and Schmidt Design attended the December Shores Advisory Committee meeting to discuss the purpose of the survey and the committee’s goals and objectives. Using the committee’s input, a draft survey was developed, which the committee also reviewed.