Escondido’s Grape Day Park Master Plan firms up

Escondido’s Grape Day Park Master Plan firms up
An update to the playground is the only project that has funding at this point. About $237,000 will go towards adding a splash pad and other structures. It’s expected to be finished by the middle of next summer. Photo by Ellen Wright

ESCONDIDO — The Grape Day Master Plan update is one step closer to being finalized. On Dec. 3, the Historic Preservation Committee received a presentation and offered their comments on the design.

The park will receive an update to its master plan, which is the guiding document that dictates what can and cannot be built. Having the plans in writing also makes it easier for the city to secure funding for the projects, some of which are currently unfunded.

According to Loretta McKinney, library and community services director, the design and construction of the playground is fully funded to about $237,000.

Doug Grove, from RHA Landscaping, which was contracted to design the plan, said the playground should be finished by mid-summer 2015.

As part of the conceptual designs, a splash pad was included. Grove also plans to highlight the park’s historically agricultural background with concrete benches of oranges and avocados.

Another design element included was concrete crates that function as benches with agricultural labels.

Grove said that the tree stump, which currently sits in the park, would be sanded down and used for benches. He said he had five different manufacturers looked at the stump in an effort to turn it into a tree house but they couldn’t figure out an option that was safe.

Three public workshops were held to get input on the master plan update.

One of the ideas that was popular was the inclusion of a permanent food cart in the park. Doug Grove told the commission Tuesday that a permanent cart wasn’t possible.

“Right now the current ordinance doesn’t allow any permanent food service north of Pennsylvania (Avenue),” Grove said.

However, multiple picnic areas will be planned throughout the park and Grove said they will be accessible to food trucks.

Connections at critical intersections will also be added in an effort to draw more visitors to the park.

“We identified some areas at Broadway and Woodward and Pennsylvania and Maple Street Plaza, to just accentuate what happens in the street and to bring the attention to the drivers so they are (aware) they are coming along to a place where people will be crossing into the park, as well as to identify places for the pedestrians and community to see where they can enter the park,” Grove said.

Landscaped medians will be added to North Broadway and Woodward Avenue to “green it up” a little, Grove said and to “expand the park into the streets a little bit.”

The commissioners commented that they wanted drought tolerant and native California landscaping to be added.

“Eventually whether it’s next year or within 20 years, we’re going to be addressing the city’s demonstration of water conservation so I just wanted to make sure you’re taking that into extreme consideration,” the newest commissioner, Mathew Taylor told Grove. “I just want to make sure it’s representing Escondido, where it’s going as well as where it is.”

A main walkway will be added to give pedestrians a route to go from the Maple Street Plaza to Pennsylvania Avenue.

Some pedestrian and bike paths will be widened to make for easier access.

Among the other additions commissioners were shown, included a new stage behind the current train depot in the park, which Grove said, needs anchoring.

He showed the commission plans to add concrete stamping of train tracks, and wood, which is cheaper to upkeep than the real thing.

Another recommendation was brand new restrooms, since Grove said, restoring the old ones would cost almost as much as building new ones.

Also, as a means to incorporate the James Stone Pool on Woodward Avenue, a walkway will be added through the park and a half basketball court and horse shoe courts to the east of the current pool.

Depending on approval and funding, either the pool will be completely redone to a competition-sized pool, or the current pool will get a facelift.

At a recent meeting, McKinney told the council the pool is obsolete and in need of major upgrades. It currently isn’t accessible to people with disabilities, since it was built before the Americans with Disability Act passed in 1990.

The plans will go in front of city council early next year for final approval.

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