Carmel Valley Recreation Center celebrates 15th anniversary

The Carmel Valley Recreation Center during this year’s summer concert series. Photo by Jon Clark.

By Karen Billing

The Carmel Valley Community Park is celebrating its 15th anniversary with a party this Sunday, Oct. 26.

From 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. the park will host an afternoon including music from Atomic Groove, inflatable jumpers, snow cones and kettle corn, face painting and crafts, and of course, birthday cake.

“We wanted to recognize our 15 years and do something for the community for a nice and fun Sunday afternoon,” said Marilee Pacelli, Carmel Valley Recreation Council member.

Carmel Valley’s park, recreation center and pool opened to the public on Oct. 15, 1999. While she wasn’t involved in the design, Pacelli had just joined the Recreation Council the year before. Ginny Barnes chaired the design committee.

A growing community grew anxious waiting for the park space to open — there were rain and construction delays, landscaping problems and even “faulty paint,” according to a July 1999 Carmel Valley News article.

The Carmel Valley Recreation Center when it opened in 1999.

The 18-acre park is unique in that it is spread out onto three levels: the lower level off El Camino Real, the second with the recreation center, pool, amphitheater and grass area; and the top level with the basketball, tennis courts and big field, frequently filled with adult softball leagues.

“One of the benefits of the unique design is the stairs,” Pacelli said of the steps connecting the levels. “It’s kind of fun that the design lends itself to people getting in shape; people are always running the stairs.”

The community center is always buzzing with activity.

“Basketball is big in the gym, both adults and kids,” Pacelli said. “We are one of the top recreation councils in the city due to the money we’re able to raise because we have such successful programs. All of our programs pretty much sell out.”

Center Director Salome Martinez has done a great job in terms of adding programs, Pacelli said, noting such programs as Tots n Pots kids’ baking classes, Booktastic book club, art, dance, Master Sports and the always-full toddler gymnastics classes.

Because of that success, CV Rec Council is able to put money back into the fields for upkeep and into the equipment that the programs use, from upgraded scoring clocks in the gym to mats for gymnastics. The council is also able to organize movie nights and summer concert series, sponsored by Kilroy Realty and Pardee Homes.

“We want to give back to the community so it is a fun place for people to come, and to have it be a hub for Carmel Valley, a place where people can congregate,” Pacelli said.

One place the rec council’s funds will be going to work very soon is at the pool. The Carmel Valley Pool is unique in that it has two water slides, a big attraction. The slides had to be closed because they needed repairs, but come November, the pool will close for three months to repair the slides. The work is being done through council funds and matching funds from the city.

In the park’s original blueprints, there were designs for two multisport arenas on the second-level grassy area, side by side with some bleacher seating. The arenas could serve soccer, lacrosse, field hockey and even some Pop Warner football.

Although they were not incorporated into the design, Pacelli said the plans have since been approved by the city parks and recreation board — they just need the funds to build them. The council has discussed using Facilities Benefits Assessment funding for that project as well as for installing artificial turf on the fields, with the understanding that funds would need to be set aside for future maintenance and replacement as well.

Winter class registration begins Nov. 22 for Carmel Valley Recreation Center classes that run from December through March 2015. To view the brochure, visit

  1. Register for classes online at