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Carlsbad council reviews park design proposals

CARLSBAD — Council has delayed its decision on a final design for Alga Norte Park — Carlsbad’s highly anticipated aquatics and recreational complex — following a review of several design proposals at a City Council workshop March 29.
While the council majority agreed that the city should move forward with Phase One of the project, with an estimated construction cost of $35.6 million, they asked staff to further explore operating partnerships and Phase Two design options.
“We need to build this pool — let’s get Phase One started,” Councilman Keith Blackburn said. “Can we tweak it a little? Probably, but we should get the pool done.”
Almost a decade in the making, Alga Norte Park is slated for construction on a 32-acre parcel along Poinsettia Lane. The park has been redesigned a number of times over the years to include more facilities.
Phase One of the project could be completed as early as mid-2014 and would include an aquatics complex, three ball fields, a skate park, a dog park and basketball courts.
“I’m ready to go with Phase One,” Councilwoman Farrah Douglas said. “The way Phase One is constructed is perfect — I’m not willing to spend one more dollar on a redesign.”
Representatives from Encinitas’ Magdalena Ecke Family YMCA attended the meeting to express their interest in partnering with Carlsbad to run the park.
Assistant City Manager John Coates included a review of an “unsolicited resdesign proposal” from the YMCA organization, which representatives said could be built within budget and operated at no cost to Carlsbad residents.
“We’re poised and ready to go,” Susan Hight, executive director of the Magdalena Ecke Family YMCA said. “We know what we’re doing — we’re not just a survey.”
Kulchin and Douglas were adamant about not spending more time on a park redesign for the YMCA, while Blackburn said he hoped to see the city run the park on its own.
“I think we’re being offered a lot more than we realize,” Mayor Matt Hall said. He asked council and staff to maintain an open mind toward operating partnerships, whether with the YMCA or another nonprofit organization.
Council members did eliminate one design option — a proposal by consultants that relied heavily on the concession sales of alcoholic beverages. The Parks and Recreation Commission also expressed concern over serving alcohol at a family-oriented park.
“That changes the focus of the park from a family-friendly park to an adult park,” Councilman Mark Packard said.
Douglas added that the consultants’ design did not reflect the neighborhood where Alga Norte Park will be built. “It’s not us and it’s not Carlsbad.”
Staff is expected to bring new information regarding partnerships and Phase Two options to council in late April.
For upcoming Carlsbad City Council workshop information, including meeting agendas and location, visit