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Plan approved for 465-acre O’side park

OCEANSIDE — To the applause of community watchdogs, seniors and soccer players, the 465-acre El Corazon Specific Plan got a final OK from City Council on June 3.
“I think the whole community here is glowing tonight,” Diane Nygaard, El Corazon Oversight Committee member, said.
The approved plan calls for recreation trails, soccer fields, commercial areas and hotels to be phased in to
the sprawling park site on Oceanside Boulevard, between El Camino Real and Rancho Del Oro, over the next 20 years.
Multiple soccer fields that fulfill a growing demand for recreation and tournament use are a big part of the park plan. “We could use the fields seven days a week, 52 weeks a year,” David Kerton, vice president of the Soccer Club of Oceanside, said. “El Corazon allows us to impact that.”
“It’s a long time coming,” Tyrone Matthews, chair of the El Corazon Oversight Committee, said. “It’s been 13 years since we started community input on what the community wanted on this site.”
In those 13 years, community meetings, water bill surveys, a vision planning committee and an oversight committee worked through options of land use and park layout. “The conscientious process allowed everyone to have their opinions heard,” Matthews said. “What we did was not compromise, but build a better opinion.”
The park design focuses on open space and easy circulation. Nine “districts” will divide the 465 acres into smaller areas that can be accessed by car and a pedestrian promenade will bisect the center of the park, Jami Williams, manager of planning RRM Design Group, said.
The Environmental Impact Report was OK’d with noise and water use issues addressed. Traffic impact still remains a concern and will be managed with additional traffic lanes and the retiming of traffic signals.
Parking for the 300 residential units, two hotels and commercial areas was also questioned and permits were suggested.
Another concern is acquiring $170 million to get the core park built. “My feeling is not of closure but getting close to it,” Hugh La Bounty, an Oceanside resident, said. “I think we can raise money on this, I can smell it.”
The park plan that includes residential units, hotels and commercial use is designed to pay for itself. Ultimately the revenue will be derived on site. Initial funds will be sought from foundations and federal government education grants, La Bounty said.
Douglas Eddow, economic and community development manager, said contributions from the public sector and a bond will also be looked into to finance park development.
“Right now we’re looking at all our options,” Eddow said. “We want to reduce the public financing involved.”
A new citizens commission will be formed to provide direction to the city during park building and development.