Anchor ads are not supported on this page.

4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

The Big Fill

Image by Dorian Hargrove

Residents of University Heights refer to the canyon underneath the Vermont Street Bridge (over Washington Street and near the onramp for Highway 163) as the “dead zone,” a trash-filled netherworld covered with dried-up palm fronds, discarded clothing, and moldy bedding from the homeless encampments spread throughout the ravine.

For years, the community has considered ways to make the area useful. Two years ago, University Heights resident Rhett Butler volunteered to find a solution. In that time, he’s spent over 200 hours and a couple of thousand dollars from his own pocket, looking for ways to bring the area back to life. He collaborated with North Park resident and landscape architect David McCullough, and the two devised a plan to transform the canyon wasteland into a community park.

Inside Birney Elementary School Auditorium on Thursday, February 5, at the monthly University Heights Community Association meeting in front of Councilmember Todd Gloria, Butler and McCullough unveiled their plan, calling it, “Mystic Park.”

The park includes a children’s playground, open space for summer concerts, a dog park, and a sidewalk that connects University Heights to north Hillcrest.

Sponsored
Sponsored

There are some obstacles Butler and the University Heights Community need to overcome before the “dead zone” can come alive.

The first challenge is finding the mountain of dirt to fill the canyon just north of Washington Street.

“It’s previously disturbed land,” Butler said during his presentation, referring to when the land was moved to make way for the highway and the Washington Street extension back in 1948. “And that’s why we have the opportunity to fill this in and make it into a park.”

As far as filling the canyon, Butler hopes to persuade new developments to dump their dirt into the canyon, possibly charging private companies to dump their unwanted dirt in the canyon instead of hauling it to Miramar Landfill.

The next obstacle is convincing Caltrans to reroute the Highway 163 onramp.

Butler says because the land is owned jointly by the state and the city, acquiring the land won’t cost any money; and because of the daily traffic snarl that takes place at Washington and the 163, the transportation department shouldn’t protest rerouting the ramp.

Although Butler was reluctant to put a timeline on the project, he says if everything goes right, construction could start in a few years. He plans to do all he can before handing it over to the city. That means finding volunteers that are architects, traffic experts —anybody that help.

“It won’t happen if I give it over to the city. It will get mired down and they’ll soak up any of the money from the community as far as using up any funds from development impact fees. I don’t want to see that happen.”

To find out how you can help, or if you have a few thousand tons of extra dirt lying around, go to uhsd.org, or contact Butler directly at 619-806-0808.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

City late to extricate foxtails from Fiesta Island

Noxious seeds found in chest walls and hearts, and even the brain cavity of dead dogs
Next Article

San Diego police buy acoustic weapons but don't use them

1930s car showroom on Kettner – not a place for homeless
Image by Dorian Hargrove

Residents of University Heights refer to the canyon underneath the Vermont Street Bridge (over Washington Street and near the onramp for Highway 163) as the “dead zone,” a trash-filled netherworld covered with dried-up palm fronds, discarded clothing, and moldy bedding from the homeless encampments spread throughout the ravine.

For years, the community has considered ways to make the area useful. Two years ago, University Heights resident Rhett Butler volunteered to find a solution. In that time, he’s spent over 200 hours and a couple of thousand dollars from his own pocket, looking for ways to bring the area back to life. He collaborated with North Park resident and landscape architect David McCullough, and the two devised a plan to transform the canyon wasteland into a community park.

Inside Birney Elementary School Auditorium on Thursday, February 5, at the monthly University Heights Community Association meeting in front of Councilmember Todd Gloria, Butler and McCullough unveiled their plan, calling it, “Mystic Park.”

The park includes a children’s playground, open space for summer concerts, a dog park, and a sidewalk that connects University Heights to north Hillcrest.

Sponsored
Sponsored

There are some obstacles Butler and the University Heights Community need to overcome before the “dead zone” can come alive.

The first challenge is finding the mountain of dirt to fill the canyon just north of Washington Street.

“It’s previously disturbed land,” Butler said during his presentation, referring to when the land was moved to make way for the highway and the Washington Street extension back in 1948. “And that’s why we have the opportunity to fill this in and make it into a park.”

As far as filling the canyon, Butler hopes to persuade new developments to dump their dirt into the canyon, possibly charging private companies to dump their unwanted dirt in the canyon instead of hauling it to Miramar Landfill.

The next obstacle is convincing Caltrans to reroute the Highway 163 onramp.

Butler says because the land is owned jointly by the state and the city, acquiring the land won’t cost any money; and because of the daily traffic snarl that takes place at Washington and the 163, the transportation department shouldn’t protest rerouting the ramp.

Although Butler was reluctant to put a timeline on the project, he says if everything goes right, construction could start in a few years. He plans to do all he can before handing it over to the city. That means finding volunteers that are architects, traffic experts —anybody that help.

“It won’t happen if I give it over to the city. It will get mired down and they’ll soak up any of the money from the community as far as using up any funds from development impact fees. I don’t want to see that happen.”

To find out how you can help, or if you have a few thousand tons of extra dirt lying around, go to uhsd.org, or contact Butler directly at 619-806-0808.

Comments
Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Earth Day Celebration, Indigo Dyeing & Shibori workshop

Events April 21-April 24, 2024
Next Article

Why you climb El Cajon Mountain at night

The man with no rope fell 500 feet
Comments
Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories Fishing Report — What’s getting hooked from ship and shore From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town The Gonzo Report — Making the musical scene, or at least reporting from it Letters — Our inbox Movies@Home — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Outdoors — Weekly changes in flora and fauna Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Street Style — San Diego streets have style Surf Diego — Real stories from those braving the waves Theater — On stage in San Diego this week Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close

Anchor ads are not supported on this page.