Carmel Valley Park and Recreation Council approves PHR park

The Carmel Valley Park and Recreation Council approved the plans for the new Pacific Highlands Ranch Community Park and Recreation Center at its Feb. 2 meeting, bringing the community one step closer to a park with the first bicycle pump track in San Diego and one of largest turf sports fields in the city.

“I’m truly impressed by the whole park,” said Marilee Pacelli, recreation council chair after the council’s unanimous vote of support. “I actually think the recreation center building itself is going to be truly amazing.”

Manjeet Ranu, chair of the park design committee, said he is proud that his group was able to work at “rocket speed” with the help of their “fantastic consultants” Schmidt Design Group and Hanna Gabriel Architects.

“We came up with a park that is loaded with features,” Ranu said.

The park and recreation center will be located on Village Center Loop Road, near Canyon Crest Academy and next to the new Pacific Trails Middle School.

Glen Schmidt, of Schmidt Design Group, detailed the park’s many highlights: the “enormous” 5-and-a-half-acre field (larger than the substantial 4.7-acre Ocean Air Recreation Center field), two full-size lit basketball courts, parkour course, skate plaza, dog parks and an inventive play garden for kids with unique structures for discovery and climbing.

The pump track, as explained by design committee member Chris Powell, is a trend that has taken off in the mountain states and in Northern California. Obstacles called “rollers” allow riders to gain speed — by “pumping” the obstacles, riders can develop basic bike-handling skills and get a fun form of exercise.

“It’s really exciting and we will be the first in San Diego to do it,” Powell said.

There will be a half-mile walking and jogging loop with exercise stations around the park perimeter — runners will also be able to do speed work on the Pacific Trails Middle track when school hours are out.

Jim Gabriel, of Hanna Gabriel Architects, said the 17,000-square-foot recreation center was designed to tie into the civic buildings and residences of Pacific Highlands Ranch with its “soft-modern” style. The recreation center will have a large gym striped for sports, such as basketball, volleyball and badminton, meeting rooms and class spaces, linked together by an enclosed patio.

As the result of San Diego’s streamlined process to bring more parks to the city, the plan no longer has to go from the Carmel Valley board to the area committee — it will head straight to the San Diego Park and Recreation Board on Feb. 18 or March 17.

Funding from Pardee Homes will be available for the two-year construction process to begin in July of 2017.