Park delayed until 2015


Pacific Highlands Ranch residents thought waiting until 2013 for their Gonzales Canyon Neighborhood Park was bad.

Now, according to the latest timeline from the city Parks and Recreation Department, the park is not expected until 2015.

According to the community plan, the park was due to be built next year.

“My kids are going to be in high school at this rate,” said Manjeet Ranu, a Carmel Valley Community Planning Board representative from Pacific Highlands Ranch.

The community has $8.5 million in facilities benefits funds available to build and design the park, but the project is waiting on the city to acquire the land from Pardee Homes. The process started more than two years ago.

Even though the money is there, city officials have said they do not have the funds to pay to maintain the park if it is built.

“We have a lot of frustrated residents here,” said Dean Dubey, also a PHR representative on the planning board.

Ranu called the situation “bleak” as he and Dubey met with city parks and recreation employees last Thursday night. Dubey and Ranu are doing what they can to ensure this park gets built, even if it means neighbors take over the maintenance costs from the city.

The two are investigating what it would take to get the park as well as an “urban amenity” walking trail into their maintenance assessment district (MAD) and what the cost would be for individual residents. Maintenance assessment districts are the way property owners assess themselves for services above and beyond what the city provides.

The future park, located at the end of Pacific Highlands Ranch Parkway, would cover five acres, with an additional five acres of joint use field with a possible future Solana Beach School District school.

The trail would run about 2,600 feet along the future park from Pacific Highlands Parkway east to Lopelia Meadows. When completed the trail would run all the way to Rancho Santa Fe Farms Road and be included in a private homeowner’s association for future homes.

Ranu and Dubey say they worry about current residents not having any control over the trail and billing only future homeowners for its care.

Based on early estimates, the annual maintenance and operations for the 5-acre park without any amenities like a restroom, would be around $6,150. The trail would be about $51,342, with weekly checks on landscaping, lighting and maintenance on the decomposed granite on the trail. The cost would not include repair if rains washed away the trail down the slope, and it could be reduced if inspections were less frequent.

In order to include the trail and park in their assessment district, Pacific Highlands Ranch would have to vote again, a process that would cost $30,000 and take six to nine months, according to Andy Field, assistant deputy director of the open space division and MADs for the city parks and recreation department.

Field said that, if approved, the ballot would be mailed with 45 days for residents to respond. They would vote on the maximum amount that they could be assessed for.

Pardee Homes would vote for future homes and the schools in the MAD would also have a vote.

Ranu said they would not move forward with putting the park in the MAD unless they had assurances that it would get built.

“If the community is willing to do something, the city should be willing to step up on their end,” Ranu said.