Officials tour new Encinitas Community Park


Encinitas Parks and Recreation Commissioners saw firsthand the progress of the much-anticipated Encinitas Community Park during a July 24 tour.

“Just the size of it — it’s what made an impression on me,” Commissioner Sanford Shapiro said after the tour of the 44-acre park.

“It’s still very walkable, with concrete paths throughout. And it seems there’s something for everyone.”

Shapiro said he was especially impressed with the design of the 2-acre Maggie Houlihan Memorial Dog Park, named after the late councilwoman.

The dog park features a large turf area, a spot for smaller dogs and another place that will let new dogs adjust before playing.

The nonprofit Encinitas Garden Festival & Tour committee recently donated $7,500 to help pay for future amenities there, such as a fountain or gazebo.

Shapiro said he also enjoyed walking through the 13,000-square-foot skatepark, complete with a skate plaza and bowl. In coming weeks, finishing touches like oak trees in planter boxes and a granite slab for skateboarders to slide across will go in at the skatepark.

The community park, behind the Vons off Santa Fe Drive, is slated to open sometime this fall.

John Frenken, park and beach superintendent, noted that even though the park isn’t officially open, that hasn’t stopped many from using the skatepark.

“They’ve been skating here for a while,” Frenken said. “The word is out.”

Frenken said it’s up to USS Cal Builders, community park contractor, to provide security until construction is complete and the keys are turned over to the city. Until then, USS Cal Builders is liable for any injuries or damage on the property.

Skateboarders will be required to strap on a helmet, elbow pads and kneepads to take advantage of the park. Otherwise, they risk a fine. The council passed an ordinance spelling out those rules last fall to conform to state law.

The park will also feature two restrooms, a concession stand, a playground, a soccer field and three multi-use fields for sports like baseball and softball.

On that note, Frenken also emphasized that field lighting is not planned at the park, contrary to some rumors.

Slides, ropes and climbing structures have been installed at the playground, and a cushiony rubber surface will soon go in there.

Frenken said much of the park is finished. The city is primarily waiting for the grass — planted through a process called hydroseeding — to grow.

The community park will have 1,000 trees, ranging from palms to sycamores. They’re expected to mature in five to 10 years, depending on the variety.

And the park will have two car entrances, off Santa Fe Drive and MacKinnon Avenue.

Acquiring the property cost the city $17.2 million, while construction will total an estimated $19.3 million. Work began on the park almost two years ago.