DEL MAR — Council members at the March 2 meeting approved a survey – the third in four months – that will help determine possible future uses for the Shores property, a 5.3-acre site bounded by Camino del Mar, Ninth Street and Stratford Court.
The online questionnaire, which will begin in mid-March, is one component of the first phase of the master planning process to develop the property, which the city bought for $8.5 million from the Del Mar Union School District in 2008 to preserve the area as open space.
The “discover” phase began in November and is expected to conclude in May. It is focused on learning what people like to do for recreation.
Input will also come from interest group interviews — 12 have been conducted so far — informational pop-up booths at community events this spring, an onsite Plan Your Park workshop scheduled for May 2 and MindMixer, an information-gathering tool that can be found at engagedelmar.com.
“These different efforts for engaging the community and gathering their thoughts and ideas, including this survey, were selected by the council-appointed Shores Advisory Committee,” Kristen Crane, assistant to the city manager, said.
The goals of the group include gathering use ideas, rather than design input, early in the process through a variety of approaches, being as inclusive as possible, designing a park that will stand the test of time and finding people who don’t currently use the park but would if it was designed differently, Crane said.
True North Research worked with the committee and Schmidt Design Group, the consultant hired to prepare the Shores master plan, to create the survey.
Invitations that include a custom access code will be mailed to one randomly selected registered voter in each of the city’s approximately 1,700 households.
Those who do not respond to the online survey within the first week will receive a follow-up phone call.
People will be asked what activities the adults and children in the home engage in most often. The list offers 16 choices that include a variety of team sports such as soccer, baseball and football, swimming in a pool, arts and crafts, walking, jogging and walking a dog.
Some questions focus on park use and amenities in general, while others seek input specifically about the Shores property.
“We’re not focusing on any solutions,” Glen Schmidt, of Schmidt Design, said. “We’re starting with the big picture. The survey is one of those tools to collect information and prioritize what might work on the site.”
Schmidt said the temptation is to look at how many people “voted” for a certain amenity on the site.
“Park design is not done through statistical analysis and applying that to the site,” he said. “It’s an art form. We’re looking for creating a special place. And that special place is a blend of amenities that work well together.”
Councilman Dwight Worden initially said he would prefer using a system in which all registered voters could take the survey.
Timothy McClarney, from True North, said allowing only one registered voter per household to respond would, among other things, result in a more statistically valid survey and decrease the likelihood of duplicate answers.
Worden was satisfied with the explanation and agreed to “trust the experts” and the methodology they chose.
Resident Bill Michalsky was not that easily swayed. He said it was “mind-boggling” that every registered voter would not have a chance to weigh in.
“I just find that … to be a fault on the surface,” he said.
Registered voters in the city were surveyed between Nov. 20 and Jan. 12 to gauge their satisfaction with city services and from Feb. 2 to Feb. 20 to provide input for what should be included in a new City Hall complex.
McClarney said he worked with Everyone Counts, which conducted the City Hall questionnaire, to ensure Del Marians were clear this is a different survey.
Phase two of the master planning process, which is being called “imagine,” is expected to begin in May and run through August.
“Create,” the final phase, should conclude in April 2016.