CARLSBAD — The City Council last week approved a resolution to authorize lease negotiations with the San Dieguito Union High School District for the La Costa Valley Sports Complex.
The 28-acre lot on Calle Barcelona is owned by SDUHSD and previous plans called for a middle school. However, declining enrollment forced the district to scrap those plans, according to Mick Calarco, Carlsbad’s special projects manager.
The site has three baseball fields and vast amounts of open space for a variety of uses such as soccer and other sports.
The city of Carlsbad will operate and maintain the site, opening it up to public use, although public sports will work around SDUHSD athletic events.
“What we’d like to do is talk with the district about a lease agreement that could lead to enhanced public recreational access, benefit and use as a community park,” Calarco said. “That would be a mutually beneficial opportunity for both the district and the city.”
Carlsbad maintenance obligations would include landscaping, restrooms, fencing, lighting and furnishings. Operation of the site includes field negotiations, scheduling, programming camps, clinics and tournaments, to name a few.
Financially, one-time improvements are estimated at $350,000, with annual maintenance projected at $300,000. A funding source has not yet been identified, according to Parks and Recreation Director Chris Hazeltine.
However, one aspect of Calarco and Hazeltine’s report to the council centered on the city’s park acreage and whether the complex would or could be included. Hazeltine said it was not the motivation behind the negotiations with the district, but could be a perk as it could then be eligible to be included in the city’s inventory of park acreage.
At build out of the city, Hazeltine said the city will have a surplus of park acreage through the Growth Management Plan. The largest park to help satisfy those requirements in every quadrant of the city, he added, will be Veterans Park adjacent to The Crossings, which is in the process of adding habitat.
Hazeltine said there is language in the Open Space Plan that future joint-use properties should not be counted to the park acreage. “This in my mind is a little bit different because it would be a lease, not a joint-use agreement,” he said. “The joint-use agreements typically are on school sites and the school has access during the day. This would be kind of reversed. It would be open to the public during the day, where the others wouldn’t.”
During the week, the complex would be open until about 3 or 4 p.m., when SDUHSD athletics would need access for practice and other uses.
Tina Douglas, associate superintendent of Business Services for SDUHSD, said the district’s preference is to work with Carlsbad and avoid a private entity, who may attempt to charge access or membership fees.
“The district has an interest in working with another public agency that already has experience in managing this type of facility,” Douglas said. “It would be most beneficial for us.”