New Pacific Highlands Ranch Community Park breaks ground

CV Community Planning Board member Ken Farinsky, Councilmember Barbara Bry, Assistant Park and Recreation Director Andrew Field and Pardee Homes Division President Jimmy Ayala at the groundbreaking of the new PHR Park.

The Pacific Highlands Ranch Community Park, “part of the community, designed by the community”, celebrated a groundbreaking ceremony on June 23. The new 13 acre-park with recreation center is expected to open in September 2018 on Village Center Loop Road, a central, walkable location between Canyon Crest Academy and Pacific Trails Middle School, across from the Village at Pacific Highlands Ranch.

SD City Councilmember Barbara Bry speaks at the groundbreaking.
SD City Councilmember Barbara Bry speaks at the groundbreaking. (Karen Billing)

“Today’s a very exciting day for us as we’ve kicked off this community park which is a great asset to this overall Pacific Highlands community,” said Pardee Homes Division President Jimmy Ayala. “The overall Pacific Highlands Ranch community is doing extremely well. There’s a tremendous amount of activity and investment, homes are selling and there’s retail doing well. The community is really developing better than we thought it would and our vision from 1998 is really coming together. As part of our vision, this community park plays a key role in that.”

Andrew Field, the assistant director of the San Diego Parks and Recreation Department, said the park is “just packed with good stuff” thanks to a very involved and inclusive community planning process.

Designed by Glen Schmidt, the park will have a large, five-acre lit turf field can accommodate a variety of sports from baseball to rugby, a spacious recreation center can host classes, camps and community events, outdoor basketball courts, a traditional children’s playground and a discovery area, multiple areas for teenagers and even space for dogs both large and small.

The park will also feature the city’s first free public parkour area and bike pump track.

Councilmember Barbara Bry said she had just learned that day about what a bike pump track and parkour were, “This is definitely going to be a unique park,” she remarked.

Jim Gabriel of Hanna Gabriel Architects designed the recreation center: a “soft modern” structure with a broad roof drawing in textures and materials from the surrounding area, such as white stucco, warm wood framing and a tile and weathered steel roof. The gym building and multi-purpose building will be linked by an enclosed patio.

A central promenade will link the park to The Village and future library across the street.

PHR Park committee members Ken Farinsky, Chris Powell and Dan Curran.
PHR Park committee members Ken Farinsky, Chris Powell and Dan Curran. (Karen Billing)

In his comments, Field thanked longtime community volunteers Allen Kashani from Pardee Homes and Ken Farinsky for their involvement in the design committee. Fields said he has worked with Farinsky for over 15 years on parks and recreation and community planning boards.

“He’s been Mr. Carmel Valley and Pacific Highlands Ranch,” Fields said. “He’s always thinking of community-first and volunteering to help make things better.”

Farinsky said over the last 15 to 20 years he has been on many park design committees but this one was one he was most excited about.

The PHR Community Park Committee included locals Chris Powell, Danielle McCallion, Scott Curry, Manjeet Ranu, Dan Curran representing Coast income Properties and neighboring Village at Pacific Highlands Ranch and John Addleman from the San Dieguito Union High School District. Community input played a significant role in the park’s design —Farinsky said he’s never been involved with a project that had more outreach, including participation from Canyon Crest Academy students, who surveyed their school about what teenagers would like to see in the park.

“I believe the resulting park meets the broadest possible needs of the community while also maintaining compatibility with the surroundings,” Farinsky said.

Those surroundings, Bry noted, represent one of the most exciting growing communities in San Diego—more than 16,000 homes with 20 percent of them affordable, five schools, a fire station, a major shopping center, now a park and soon a library. Those driving into the groundbreaking could take note of the undergoing widening of Carmel Valley Road to Del Mar Heights Road and see new apartments under construction across the street from the dirt lot that will be green grass by next fall.

‘“When this does open up, it’s going to be the gathering space for the community,” Ayala said.