Following 10 months of work from Encinitas Parks and Recreation department staff, the Parks and Rec Commission, many interested private citizens and hired consultant GreenPlay, the Parks, Beaches, Trail and Open Space Master Plan was presented and approved at the Oct. 26 City Council meeting.
All five Council members complimented the hard work of everyone involved, then each stressed the need to take this project to the next step — implementation.
“It’s a comprehensive report, it’s very detailed and it’s a great road map,” Council member Mark Muir said in his comments. “One of the concerns I have is the implementation schedule … if it’s not tied closely to a financial plan, it becomes a book on a shelf.”
A list of goals, with general timelines lasting through the next 10 years, is laid out in the Master Plan.
“The one thing I can say about my department and our leadership in the department, we’re doers,” Parks and Recreation Director Jennifer Campbell said. “When we have a list, we want to look at it, we want to be thoughtful in our execution and our process, and we want to produce quality product.
“We don’t want this to sit on a shelf. I am hopeful that in 10 years, we are able to look at this list of goals and objectives, and they are all crossed off.”
Campbell added that City Council approval at the Oct. 26 meeting was a necessary first step, which will be followed by an implementation plan, including cost information.
And that first step was a big one. With the Parks Master Plan intended to be used as guide to prioritize and develop facility plans and recreation programs in Encinitas for the next 10 years, its development included two key components — outreach and research.
Working with GreenPlay, the city conducted public focus group meetings, listening sessions and direct mail and open surveys, in addition to soliciting input from City Commissions, not just Parks and Recreation but Youth and Planning as well.
With an initial list of community priorities, the city and its consultants did a comprehensive facilities inventory and a level-of-service analysis to see what’s already in place in Encinitas and what could be added. The comparisons between the research and outreach resulted in a list of community priorities which serve as the basis for the more-detailed Parks, Beaches, Trails and Open Space Master Plan, which can be viewed at https://tinyurl.com/j94senq.
Among the top priorities were to preserve and acquire open space, beaches and natural areas; maintain, repair and upgrade facilities; add amenities to facilities; increase connectivity to trails, beaches and parks; increase programming opportunities; increase marketing, branding and awareness; pursue options for an aquatic facility; and increase opportunities for active recreation.
As it was the top priority on the list — and something the City Council had discussed at previous meetings — preserving and acquiring open space was something several Council members wanted to jump on as soon as possible.
While the agenda suggested that the Council merely receive, discuss and approve the Parks Mast Plan, the Council members went a step further with their unanimous motion, directing the City Manager to prepare an implementation plan (as part of the next budget discussion) to include an inventory of open space potential in Encinitas.