Two options to transform the Shores property into a park moved forward at the April 16 City Council meeting. Council’s agreement on both plans comes 10 years after the city bought the 5.3-acre site for $8.5 million from the Del Mar Union School District to preserve in perpetuity what has been called the “last remaining open space within city limits.”
Both proposals include a community activity building, below-grade parking structure with 80 spaces, full-size multisport court, picnic plaza and children’s play structure, walking paths, benches, overlook areas and two open-space turf areas.
In both scenarios, the private Winston School currently located on the site will be demolished and rebuilt.
“We’ve accomplished a lot with these two schemes,” Glen Schmidt of Schmidt Design Group said.
In option A, which Schmidt described as more organic, the independent 4,770-square-foot standalone community building would remain in its current location and be rebuilt or remodeled.
The parking structure would be built where the school is now, with the administration building on top of that. The school drop-off area would be south of the driveway.
The school would begin at Stratford with a one-story building that steps up the hill. The second-story roof would be green and at the level of the park so the school wouldn’t be visible from the community building.
“It will look over the roof and it will look like an extension of the park,” Schmidt said.
A public restroom in the community building could be accessed from the park even if the community center is closed. The children’s play area, proposed to be about the same size as the one at Powerhouse Park, will be southwest of the existing building.
Two areas of open turf include .8 acres for flexible play along east end and .6 acres for shared or exclusive use west of that.
Schmidt said option B has a more linear design but is more efficient.
The field for exclusive or shared use is the same size but on the northeast corner of the lot. At 1.2 acres, the flexible open space turf is larger than the existing .91-acre parcel.
Although both plans identify an off-leash dog area as either shared or exclusive use, resident Betty Wheeler said Schmidt and the Shores Advisory Committee used a “deeply flawed interpretation” of an earlier survey in their assertion that a separate area for off-leash canines was preferred.
Resident Laura DeMarco said her daughter, Annie, who attends Winston School, supports a separate dog area.
“I have stepped in dog poop on the field, and it is gross to get on my shoe and track into the classroom,” DeMarco read from a letter written by her daughter.
“On the dog issue, each has six-tenths of an acre labeled exclusive or shared use, so it’s kind of an unresolved issue,” Mayor Dwight Worden said. “Rather than argue forever about data … let’s take the temperature of the community on these specific (plans) … recognizing we’re not going to make everybody happy on that.
“Dogs are an important part of the family for a lot of people that live here,” he added. “And there are other people that don’t want to be around dogs. And I’m hoping we’ll be able to accommodate both of these there.”
Development of the master plan started in 2014. Last year council members agreed to work collaboratively with the Winston School.
With council agreeing both plans are moving in the right direction, Schmidt will now prepare cost estimates for construction and ongoing operations, as well as 3-D renderings.
That information will be presented to the advisory committee and public this summer for additional input that will hopefully result in a final design.
Councilman Terry Sinnott, one of two council liaisons for the project, praised the advisory committee for integrating input from the community and the school to shape the plans.
“These do represent what the community is asking for, but we’ll check again … this summer and see which of the concepts is most exciting to the community,” he said.
“It’s been a long road, and we’ve worked hard, and we reached out to the community,” said Councilwoman Sherryl Parks, the other council liaison. “I think that we are getting close to having a design that will be a pleasure for all of us to share that space.”
“We’re going to build a park and it’s going to be cool,” Worden said.
Council members also allocated $30,000 from a voter-approved sales tax increase known as Measure Q to fund a traffic study before the school year ends.