City highlights open space at State of the City

City highlights open space at State of the City
Mayor Matt Hall, right, speaks to residents about their concerns. After a half-hour presentation, everyone moved outside to give people a chance to talk to their councilmembers. Photo by Ellen Wright

CARLSBAD — The city held its annual state of the city Monday at the Ruby Schulman auditorium in the Dove Library to highlight the accomplishments of the past year and give residents a chance to speak to the council one on one.

Many residents came to express their opinions on the Agua Hedionda 85/15 Initiative, which was going in front of council the following day.

During the half hour presentation, the council discussed what makes Carlsbad unique and highlighted some of the important upcoming projects.

Mayor Matt Hall said the council is changing.

“One of the things that we’re doing today is being more proactive versus reactive. We’re going out into the community, listening to our residents and listening to our businesses,” he said.

Mayor Pro Tem Keith Blackburn talked of open space and a small town feel.

“Some of the things I hear from our community is that they want a well-balanced community. Everyone understands the need for business but have a super drive for keeping trails and open space and maintaining our small town feel while still understanding we’re a small city,” Blackburn said.

In a highlight reel produced by the city, recent accomplishments were presented, including the city’s partnership with the state.

Carlsbad took responsibility for enhancing amenities at Tamarack even though it’s owned by the state.

In February, the city agreed to enter into discussions with the state to take over beach amenity maintenance for the long-term.

The city spent about $90,000 in January to re-furbish the Tamarack restrooms, among other nearby upgrades.

In the future, the city hopes to increase beach access near Pine Avenue.

Councilmember Lorraine Wood discussed improvements to Carlsbad Village.

Over the past year, the Carlsbad sign was added in an effort spearheaded by former Chamber of Commerce president Carlton Lund and funded by TaylorMade Golf Company, which is based in Carlsbad.

Wood said during her tenure as a councilmember, the Village has seen lots of change, including lights and flower baskets.

“It really is the heart of our city. This is where Carlsbad started. There is a lot of charm and a lot of history,” she said.

In the future, the council hopes to trench the train tracks, which would ease the traffic flow in the Village and increase pedestrian safety.

Other highlights included the $11 million going towards the modernization of The Georgina Cole and The Dove libraries.

Another big project the council is looking forward to is the desalination plant, which is nearly completed.

It took 12 years of planning on the part of Poseidon Water and will be the largest desalination plant in the western hemisphere, once it’s complete.

Carlsbad’s parks and open space were a focal point.

Over the next fiscal year, the city is spending nearly $20 million on parks.

Pine Avenue Community Park will receive $10.4 million in upgrades, including a community center, a new gym, a community garden and an ornamental garden.

Aviara Community Park will receive $3.1 million in upgrades, including a new amphitheater, group picnic areas and a kitchen for cooking classes and event catering.

At Poinsettia Community Park a dog park will be built, along with a multi-sport arena at a cost of nearly $4 million.

While the council talked about the successes, a lot of residents came to voice their opinions about the strawberry fields mall proposed by developer Rick Caruso.

Opinions were split and the initiative passed unanimously the following day.

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