By Karen Billing
St. Therese of Carmel will get new playing space for its parish and school as the Carmel Valley Community Planning Board unanimously approved a substantial conformance review for the turf field on March 27. Board members Christian Clews and Debbie Lokanc recused themselves from the vote as they are members of the church on Del Mar Trails Road.
The field was previously approved in the church’s plans in 2002 but never built, according to Frank Gallagher, who represented St. Therese at the meeting.
The expanded play fields are needed to meet the demands of a growing population. When the church started, it had just 300 families. Now there are more than 3,000 members and its parish grammar school, Notre Dame Academy, has 472 students enrolled in kindergarten through eighth grade.
While the fields were already approved, Gallagher said they are asking for the conformance review as they hope to change the shape and size of the fields, from a circular, 23,385 square feet, to a more rectangular 26,952 square feet.
David Pfeifer, from Domus Studio Architecture, said the artificial turf field will be built on an existing open air retention basin.
“Right now it just looks like weeds,” Pfeifer. “This will capture a piece of property and use it as originally intended.”
An eight-foot soundwall will surround the field, as well as landscaping, such as trees and shrubs, to shield it from being seen from SR-56.
“(The project) has the benefit of enhanced landscaping on that native slope as well as the benefit of more play areas for children in the community,” Pfeifer said.