Future Encinitas park gains name from Greek mythology


The city’s soon-to-be-newest park has an official name, Olympus Park. Next comes the start of construction.

“We are looking to start construction in early spring,” the city’s Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Department director, Jennifer Campbell, said.

By late fall, the new Leucadia neighborhood park should be done, she added.

Located on a 3.1-acre, hilly site at the southeast corner of Piraeus and Olympus streets, the future park is proposed to contain a specially designed skate park area with a “pump track” where riders will go around the turns by moving their bodies up and down rather than pushing or pedaling. Other park features include playground equipment, benches, picnic tables and drinking fountains.

The City Council last month voted to christen the property “Olympus Park,” reflecting the name of one of the adjacent roadways as well as the Leucadia community’s history of having many Greek mythology-inspired place names.

The city held a naming contest for the future park earlier this year and received 90 different names out of 135 submissions, Campbell said. In November, the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission reviewed those suggestions and picked three finalists -- Olympus Park, Piraeus Park and Leucadia Pacific Park. Commissioners also suggested adding in one option, Olympus Sunset Park.

Encinitas has rules regarding the naming of city-owned places. The city’s naming policy declares that names should have historical relevance, highlight a geographic location or geologic feature, or reflect community identity, and have community support. If someone wants to name something after a person, that person needs to have made a “significant financial contribution” to the city, the rules state.

At the recent City Council meeting, two people who’ve long advocated for the creation of the park offered their own naming advice to the council.

Leucadia resident Kathleen Lees, who said she can recall when the park site was picked some two decades ago, said she wanted a Greek-inspired name because that connects with the Leucadia area’s naming history. She urged the council not to add “Pacific” or “Sunset” into the name.

“The ‘Sunset’ (suggestion) doesn’t make any sense because the park is going to close at dark,” she said, adding that “Pacific” also isn’t a good choice because the park isn’t near the ocean.

John Gjata, a city parks and recreation commissioner, told the council that he liked “Mt. Olympus Park” because the city could “do something fun with art” on the signs if “mountain” was part of the park’s name. But, he said, he could live with “anything you guys chose.”

Councilman Tony Kranz, who lives in Leucadia, said he’d been favoring “Leucadia Pacific Park” that night until Lees voiced her opposition to the idea.

“Frankly, I have no strong preference for any of them,” he said, adding that he’d submitted a name of his own to the contest.

He put in “Avocado Park” because the future park property looks avocado-shaped to him and the area historically had avocado groves, he said. Councilman Joe Mosca told him that he definitely didn’t think the property was “avocado-shaped” and said he liked Olympus Park or even Olympus Sunset Park.

Councilwoman Jody Hubbard, who lives in Cardiff, said the council ought to go with what the neighbors wanted and pick either Olympus or Piraeus Park, and Councilwoman Kellie Shay Hinze said she liked Olympus Park.

That was the name that was ultimately approved in a unanimous council vote.

—Barbara Henry is a reporter for The San Diego Union-Tribune