Del Mar park plan starting to take shape for 2016

Seven years after purchasing Del Mar Shores Park, the city is on track to have a master plan for the site by early 2016 — and plenty of opportunities for input from the public.

“It will be a very busy few months, but it is an exciting project and we’re looking forward to working with the community to explore their vision for the park,” said Kristen Crane, assistant to the city manager, after giving an overview of the project process and timeline.

The council voted in August 2007 to buy the $8.5 million property from the school district, with the intent 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, appointing eight residents to serve on 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 city moved another step closer to establishing a plan for the site after the council awarded a $150,000 contract to Schmidt Design Group to produce the plan.

The master plan process is expected to take about 12 months and will entail three phases.

In the first phase, or “discover” phase, Schmidt Design Group will inventory the site and prepare a program/needs assessment. The first phase will also include a community survey, interest group interviews, an informational booth and a community workshop. The city will also use its online web tool, Mind Mixer, to gather feedback from the community.

Although the tentative time frame aimed to survey registered voters in mid-January, the council on Jan. 5 agreed to delay the survey so it wouldn’t interfere with the city hall vote.

Everyone Counts is conducting an online ballot so registered voters can choose the city hall alternative that will be built. If all goes as planned, that election could be held in early February, with results available for council discussion in March.

“I really have concerns about the timing,” said Councilman Don Mosier, noting that residents also recently participated in a 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.”

The committee plans to review the final draft of the survey at its next meeting on Jan. 14. From there, the draft will go before the council for final approval.

The second phase, “imagine,” is focused on refining the program, identifying potential site amenities and exploring alternatives. During the final phase, “create,” the consultant will develop the preferred concept into a master plan.

During the third phase, one of the city’s on-call contractors will also do an environmental review of the site.

“We realize it is going to be hectic … but we really, really appreciate and hope that they (the public) can bear with us, because these key decisions are going to be very important,” Sinnott said.