The City of Chula Vista held a meeting in the Orange Avenue library February 12. Three representatives from the city, including landscape designers, explained to a roomful of residents the timeline for the construction of a new park in the southwest area of the city.
The design, as well as the discussion, were driven by the large population of homeless people who live in the southwest area.
People in attendance welcomed the three-acre park and many in attendance participated in planning sessions over the past few years.
In 2012, the California State Parks office awarded the city a $2.8 million grant to develop the Orange Avenue park. The presenters said the park should be open in a year and a half.
The design includes a soccer field (regulation size for players 14 and under), a half court for basketball, two play areas, picnic areas, and a cement path around the perimeter. There will also be a large dog park.
A slope on the eastern side of the library — slated to become part of the dog park — generated questions. The slope is currently fenced off, and one of the presenters stated that the city has stopped watering the area.
According the presenters, the slope — which previously attracted homeless people — will be flattened and a dog park added to “activate” the site.
David Danciu, a member of the Southwest Civic Association, asked if it was necessary to get rid of the old trees on the hillside.
As the slope will be graded, many of the older trees will have to go; however, the planners said they will be able to save three trees in another location and will do some new planting along Orange Avenue so the area will not look “denuded.”
Ruth, another member of the association, asked if it was necessary to have a dog park, as dog owners have yards and access to city sidewalks. Ruth also asked if it was necessary to remove the slope if there was a dog park, because dogs can handle hills.
The presenter said, “The backside of the mound contains homeless and trash and we have a lot of problems and issues that the police department pointed out to us they can’t deal with because of the situation. By taking this mound down, we create a sight plane that eliminates any place for [the homeless] to hide. “
The presenter said that ultimately this part of the dog park will become a fire station (it is not part of the original park land). so it better serves the future fire station to remove the slope. The dirt will be used in the park.
Another concern was maintenance.
The soccer field will be grass. Alfredo Perez, president of the Olympicos soccer club, said he was worried that some Chula Vista playing fields have been closed down because the city has not been able to maintain them. Perez suggested that artificial turf might endure better than a grass field.
On the whole, Perez welcomed the park because other Southwest playing fields do not have bathrooms and young players have to cross the street to use a Pizza Hut bathroom. He also stated that the park will pair well with library offerings.
The park will not be lit at night. A speaker suggested there at least be solar-powered motion-sensor lights.
Jerry Thomas, a resident of Southwest, collected documentation on the cost of the design. In a printed statement that he passed out at the meeting, he questioned the $100,000 cost of the design which he avers was the result of a digital AutoCAD program.
Luis Carreno requested to speak last during public comment. Carreno said he is the spokesperson for the community and lives across the street from the proposed park.
Carreno said that he has lived in the same place for 50 years and the homeless problem is endemic. “There is always fighting and problems and ambulances and paramedics come every day.”
He says he has called so many times that people at the city know him by name, yet nothing gets done. Carreno said he is now speaking to congressman Juan Vargas and hopes to get some relief from him.
The presenter said the city is listening and is solving the area problems with “baby steps.”