CARLSBAD — A proposed 93-acre park dedicated to American service members cleared an essential hurdle on July 26 after the Carlsbad City Council approved a final master plan and development permits for the long-awaited project.
Veterans Memorial Park, which consists of nearly 100 acres of open space off Cannon Road along Faraday Avenue, will feature approximately 60 acres of preserve and roughly 40 acres of parkland. The sprawling park includes a memorial plaza, three playgrounds, two bike tracks, outdoor exercise and picnic areas, trails and public art, among other features.
According to the city’s park performance standards, each of the city’s quadrants will have a surplus of at least 14 acres of park space.
Kyle Lancaster, Carlsbad’s director of Parks and Recreation, said the city also has 80 acres of park projects in the pipeline,
“Veterans Memorial Park will serve a regional need,” Lancaster said.
Lancaster said the next step is to prepare the bid with an estimated project cost of $30.2 million funded by the Community Facilities District No. 1, a citywide district created in 1991 to pay for facilities, improvements and highway interchanges. The district levied a one-time special tax lien on vacant properties to help finance the development.
Veterans Memorial Park, expected to be completed by 2025, is dedicated to service members, including a plaza with commemorative plaques, memorial panels and a flagpole to honor those who served in the U.S. armed forces.
The project was conceived in 1986 as a centralized park for all residents to use, Lancaster said.
Suzie Murphy, executive director of the San Diego Mountain Biking Association, and Ben Stone, trails coordinator for the organization, said the park, especially its bike tracks, is a welcome addition to the city and North County.
Murphy said a state-of-the-art facility would be a big draw for the cycling group’s more than 300 Carlsbad residents. Currently, riders interested in visiting a bike park must travel south to San Diego or even further southeast to Sweetwater Summit Regional Park in Bonita.
“I stood here eight years ago talking about bike parks and advocating,” Stone said. “The message is still the same. We are very much in favor of this bike park. We’ve given a lot of input and encouraged our members who live in Carlsbad to be part of this process.”
However, there was some pushback against moving forward with the development of Veterans Park.
Diane Nygaard of Preserve Calavera said the park does not do enough to address climate change, citing inadequate vehicle miles traveled analysis, lack of easy access and no solar panels on structures.
Nygaard also questioned the park’s allocation of acreage, arguing approximately half of the area is considered protected habitat and only the developed acres should be allotted for the city’s parkland.
Lancaster said other parks with adjacent preserves are counted toward the city’s park standards, a practice known as the joint allocation method that dates back to the 1990s. Examples of other parks using the joint allocation method include Leo Carrillo Ranch and Hidden Canyon parks.
Councilwoman Teresa Acosta, who represents the city’s southernmost district, said she wasn’t interested in building another park in northern Carlsbad, some of which include Magee, Holiday, Pine Avenue and Buena Vista parks.
However, Acosta, who has previously voiced support for a controversial “Ponto Park” proposal in her district, eventually conceded that plans for Veterans Memorial Park should move forward.
“There have been some changes in thought on our development of our city when it comes to parks,” Acosta said. “This community is one that loves parks and neighborhood parks that we don’t have to drive to. For now, I’m very excited about Veterans Memorial Park.”