Nearly 30 years later, the city is moving forward with developing Veterans Park.
The 91.5-acre site, off Cannon Road and Faraday Avenue, has been stockpiled through the years due to the requirements for developers under the city’s Growth Management Plan.
On March 9, city staff held a public workshop at the Faraday Center to gather information from residents about what is of value to them for a park. Despite its massive size, only 43.5 acres will be developed, as the remaining acreage is already categorized as protected preserves.
“This will be our largest park,” Parks Service Manager Kyle Lancaster said. “Today (March 9) the focus is on needs, values and priorities.”
In addition to the roundtable discussion with staff, the nearly 50 people who attended also toured the park site. Still, there are many challenges with developing the park, Lancaster added. The main challenge, he said, is the topography and steep grades of the area, which consist of grades up to and over 20 percent.
This was the first of three public forums, while the park is not expected to be completed for at least five years. In addition, $23 million has been earmarked by the city for construction costs.
Kristina Ray, communications director for the city, said the main objectives from the resident input include taking advantage of the natural beauty and topography; having minimal structures on the site; opportunities to connect with nature; prioritizing opportunities to showcase views from the site; and support for both passive activities (reflection, walking, picnics) with more active (bicycle pump track and fitness stations).
“(There are) many different ideas about how to show respect for veterans, and a lot of support for this in general,” Ray said. “Participants recognized that noisy activities like a skate park or features that need lighting at night could be a challenge due to the natural protected habitat at the site and homes that are adjacent to the site.”
As for the residents, this was the first of three opportunities to discuss with staff what type of park and features should be included. There are some trails already, which link into The Crossings at Carlsbad golf course.
Resident Hope Nelson said most who went on the tour saw the park as an area more for hiking and other related activities. The topography and lack of large flat areas would not make sense for playgrounds, she said.
Another resident, Jodi Marie Jones, echoed some of Nelson’s statements, while both pointed to how the park acreage doesn’t, or shouldn’t, satisfy deficiencies with the Ponto area. While she admitted her bias as a Ponto resident, Jones said it appeared in some instances plans were pre-determined.
Still, she said the area is a unique piece of land and will benefit those residents nearby.
Both, though, said the meeting was informative and noted the challenges stated by Lancaster, such as steep grades, which will limit some amenities.
“This is walking trails and viewpoints,” Nelson said of the park. “There was a lot of talk of serenity and natural beauty.”
The park will count toward satisfying credits for all quadrants of the city, per the Citywide Facilities and Improvements Plan.