ESCONDIDO— City Council unanimously approved the concept plans for Grape Day Park at a meeting Feb. 4.
The Master Plan outlines future projects for the park, although only the playground construction is currently funded at $237,000.
Doug Grove, of RHA Landscaping, was contracted to draw up the concept plans for the entire park and oversee the playground construction.
He said the playground will likely be done by mid-summer.
The final Master Plan still needs to be approved by the council.
The playground will be extended west of the existing Vinehenge Playground and will have an agricultural theme to honor Escondido’s history.
A dry creek bed will be installed to run through the new and existing playgrounds.
The tree stump that sits in the park will also be cut down and sanded into a bench. The remaining wood from the tree will be used throughout the playground area for benches.
Grove said he spoke with five different manufacturers to try and turn the stump into a tree house but there was no safe and cost effective way to do it.
A splash pad will also be added to the new playground.
Some of the council members expressed concerns that the playground will be done before new restrooms are built.
“The bathroom and the playground kind of go hand-in-hand because what you’re doing is inviting more families and kids and they have to be able to access the bathroom,” said Councilwoman Olga Diaz.
She said the city has had an issue with people using the restrooms inappropriately.
Loretta McKinney, library and community services director, told her they plan to apply for Capital Improvements funding to go towards bathrooms in the next fiscal year.
Each phase of the Master Plan will need it’s own Environmental Impacts Review, so while the council approved the concept plan as a whole, each individual project will still need council approval and funding.
The overall cost of the park is estimated to cost nearly $19 million.
In an effort to increase safety at the park, Grove said they’re planning to add cameras and install high-efficient LED lighting.
“We do have in the master plan LED lighting as well as cameras on select poles and as that project moves forward, we’d look at the best locations for those to (go),” Grove said.
Diaz said the park is actually safe but people have a different perception.
“We need to promote that it’s a safe place and even though we know it is, crime stats don’t show that it’s a dangerous place, it still has that perception associated with it,” she said.
The one criticism councilmembers had was that the plan included too much.
Some of the proposed additions include a life-sized chessboard, horseshoe pits, a half-court basketball court, multiple splash pad areas, a new stage, small and large picnic areas, entry-way structures, fitness stations and a demonstration garden.
“I think if we can do even half of that, it would be a great destination and a very busy park,” said Mayor Sam Abed
Abed said from his observations at Kit Carson Park that people like open space and the ability to walk their dog.
Three community workshops were held to get the public’s input on Grape Day.
Grove also talked about the Jim Stone Municipal Pool. He said the city could refurbish the existing pool, which would cost about $3.3 million or replace it completely for about $5.6 million.
Since the council was only approving the Master Plan concept, no decision was made on the pool.
Other proposed improvements include replacing the chain-link fence along the Escondido Creek with a decorative iron fence and widening the Heritage Walk, which is where the Victorian house and the History Center are located.
The plan is separated into phases so each project will be complete as funding becomes available.
The entire project could take up to 20 years, according to Grove.