Locals fight to turn valuable reservoir into park

Locals fight to turn valuable reservoir into park
In a part of the city known as “Olde Carlsbad,” residents are hoping that an abandonded 3-acre lot won’t be sold by the city for more housing developments. Residents are petitioning the city to turn the land into a park. Photo by Rachel Stine

CARLSBAD — It’s part of what residents call “Olde Carlsbad.”

Most of the houses are the originals that were built around the 1950s: quaint and cushioned on sizeable lots. The neighborhood is just east of Interstate 5 and Carlsbad Village.

The closest schools, Buena Vista Elementary and Carlsbad High, are short walks away along the narrow neighborhood streets. Several yards don tree houses for the youngest residents.

“In Carlsbad there are pockets that are original Carlsbad, neighborhoods from the ‘60s, maybe even 1950s… Everybody knows everybody… It’s not a cookie cutter neighborhood,” said Mario Rodriguez of the neighborhood where he has lived for 40 years with his family.

Nestled on the hilltop of Buena Vista Way sits an abandoned, gated off lot that is just over 3 acres. City signs call for no trespassing in the dusty reservoir and utilities equipment.

The city has proposed selling the unused land with its ocean view and low- to moderate-density residential zoning to a developer. But residents are petitioning that the city turn the property into a community park.

“This particular spot in general has been sitting there since I was a kid. It’s been fenced up for 40 years,” Rodriguez said. “It’d be perfect for a park or some sort of area where the community can enjoy open space.”

Mary Anne Viney, another neighbor, explained that residents used to be able to enjoy the playground and ball fields at Buena Vista Elementary School.

But the public school’s grounds have been gated and locked for safety since the shooting at Kelly Elementary School in October 2010.

“We want a real park in our neighborhood,” Viney said. She said that locals want a park that the community can access and use during normal park hours.

There are parks nearby to the neighborhood, namely Holiday Park and Hosp Grove Park, but residents say those parks are out of walking distance.

“My 5-year-old can’t really ride his bike there yet,” Rodriguez said of Holiday Park.

Though the reservoir has been dry and unused for decades, the city identified the land as underutilized a few years ago. City council has considered selling the land since late 2013, but has continued the item after hearings.

Joe Garuba, the city’s municipal property manager who is handling the project, said the city is currently looking for ways to meet the neighbors’ request for a park.

He said the city recognizes the impact the closure of Buena Vista Elementary School grounds has had on residents.

“We are exploring all available options to provide the quality of life that neighborhood has come to expect,” he said.

The city is currently in negotiations over possible solutions, which Garuba could not specify.

Garuba did acknowledge that the property is valuable with an estimated worth of about $2.5 million to $2.75 million. Zoning would enable about 10 to 12 homes to be built on the land.

While the city weighs its options, a date has not been set for when city council will consider the matter again.

In the meantime, Viney is collecting signatures on a petition in favor of the park.

“There’s not a lot of space left, so we’re trying to salvage what we can for the neighborhood,” Rodriguez said.



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