DEL MAR — Nearly seven years after the city purchased the former Del Mar Shores School site to preserve the area as open space, the master planning process is moving forward, but council members agreed it should take a back seat to a concurrent project to replace city hall.
An update presented during the Jan. 5 meeting outlined a timeline that had registered voters weighing in on park use via an online survey beginning in about mid-January, right before a ballot is expected to go out seeking input on a new city hall.
“I really have concerns about the timing,” Councilman Don Mosier said. “We just had a citizens satisfaction survey. … The city hall survey is going to go out. It should have priority over the Shores master plan … because the timeline is much tighter.”
Mosier said he appreciates the work of the Shores master plan committee, but “survey fatigue is a real problem and I think it’s a mistake” to send out the two surveys so close together. He said it could be confusing, garner fewer responses and result in neither one offering useful information.
“City Hall is number one on our priority list, and the Shores master plan is number two or three,” Mosier said. “The Shores process needs to slow down a little bit and not start interfering with the city hall process. It’s bad planning.”
His colleagues agreed. “The Shores should stand back and allow the city hall to be on the top burner at this point,” Councilwoman Sherryl Parks said.
“I’m not in favor of doing anything that’s going to slow down the city hall or confuse the city hall issue,” Mayor Al Corti said.
Committee members will continue to work with a consulting group to develop the Shores survey, which will be presented to council members for review before being presented to residents in a few months.
The master plan process is expected to take about a year and includes several opportunities for public input.
It will be completed in three phases, the first of which will focus on taking an inventory of the site and learning how community members want to use the park.
In addition to the survey, residents will be asked their opinions during interviews with interest groups such as the private Winston School, which is located on the site, Friends of Del Mar Parks, the Del Mar Foundation and Del Mar Community Connections.
Informal booths will be set up at community events, such as the farmers market. An onsite workshop is planned for March 7, and MindMixer, an online tool, will be used to ask questions about interests for the site.
Site alternatives will be developed during phase two, and a preferred concept will be created in the third phase.
The results will be presented to the Design Review Board, Parks and Recreation Committee, Planning Commission and City Council members later this year.
The city bought the 5.3-acre lot from the school district in 2008 for $8.5 million. Following the purchase council members adopted a resolution stating a master plan would be completed before any major changes were made to the site.