City of Coronado

The final item on the agenda for the council on Tuesday, Dec. 7, was to receive an update on the Coronado Cays Park Master Plan Project regarding the process being reset and anticipated next steps. City staff presented to the council after City Manager Friend addressed the community on the concerns they have brought to her regarding the planning process over the last couple of years.

Staff referred to the history of the project thus far, how it began in 2019 and was put on pause during the pandemic and now with so much new community input as the process was started up again, the decision to start over. With the process beginning anew, the project would require additional funding of up to $55,000. In addition to two community workshops to be held at a future date to help determine community consensus, the City plans to modify their contract with Van Dyke Landscape Architects, who specialize in park development, to request three new visual renderings of potential landscape options based on community feedback to present to Coronadans and City Council.

A period of public comment preceded the council’s discussion in which a variety of Coronado residents brought their interest and concerns forth to the council regarding the park, addressing topics from private citizen surveys that had been sent out in the last year, the dog park area, and enforcement of park rules.

Councilmembers and the mayor questioned why the previous work that had been nearly completed on a proposal was not fully drafted as a starting point that could be used now, especially with a request for additional funds, but appreciated that there have been concerns from community members about the previous process and that the pandemic was a difficult time for all.

In regards to the stated next steps of the process, Mayor Bailey added, “I would like to see the process as you just articulated, Mr. Newman, prepared and spelled out in a document and shared with the City Council, and a public forum in January of this coming year so that we have an understanding, and the public has an understanding, of exactly what that timeline is and what those process steps are going to look like.”

Councilmember Sandke agreed and mentioned he was comfortable letting the City set the dates and timeline for those items. Additionally, he wanted to remind the community that like every park in Coronado, the Cays Park belongs to everyone in Coronado, and agreed with some of the public comments regarding current issues that could be addressed with aspects of the park such as walkers sometimes having to worry about dogs off leashes. “I think it’s probably very thoughtful of us to be mindful of the different folks and we’ve got to go through this process and find complementary uses [of this park],” he commented.

In favor of that motion, Councilmember Tanaka also brought forth a reminder that while hopefully there will be a public consensus with any proposed model for the park, that keeping the park as is should also remain an option on the table for the public to consider. “At some point you have weigh three, or [down to] one, option against ‘do nothing’. When you’re going out for funding, one of the things you have to do to get federal dollars is you have to prove that your preferred alternative is better than doing nothing,” he explained, adding that by doing nothing he doesn’t mean they wouldn’t do required maintenance and updates to the existing structure, but rather not fundamentally changing the landscaping and function of the park as it stands today.

As such, Councilmember Tanaka stated that he’ll be looking for the overall consensus on this issue in which plan to move forward with. If there are splits between plans that all only have the support of small groups with a special interest in those plans rather than the whole community backing one plan or another, he wouldn’t see that as a reason to support a large change to the existing park structure without the a majority in favor of doing so. “So that is something I want [to remain] down the road as an alternative,” he specified.

Councilmember Heinze offered his support for maintaining the current amount of area dedicated for the dog park based on the history of the park and the popularity and amount of use it currently sees, though he is not opposed to improvements. As to the three plans to be drawn up, Councilmember Heinze mentioned he would like to ensure each is a clearly separate plan and avoid issues that arose with the original rendering that were all variations of the same theme. “The last thing I’d last to ask the public and all the users of the park,” he added, “is to watch as we do this development and look at the things that are valuable to you, whether it’s the basketball court, or the tennis court, or the dog park, and make sure that gets preserved. But also look at how you could include other uses for other people, so that we can get more people even, using this park and we can make it inclusive for everybody.”

Councilmember Donovan spoke to looking at the use of the park space for programmable activities such as soccer as a way to give guidance for the three different potential park layout renderings. “Before we ask them to do any layouts, I think we need to make a policy decision to give to the contractor on what the assumption should be, and maybe the different alternatives is how much is used for programming; in other words, 50%, 75%,” Donovan suggested as a way to offer more direction. “We could make that choice, but we also need to understand what the impact is on the sports. I think we need that information before we start kicking off the contractor coming up with alternatives.”

While the council agreed that data to determine potential impacts would not be remiss, Councilmember Tanaka felt strongly that at present with the current agenda item on the table, it would be better to have Van Dyke Landscape Architects use their expertise and the input from the process thus far to present the three alternative park designs and be able to then study potential effects and make refinements from that point. Councilmember Donovan agreed it wasn’t a policy decision to make at that meeting, but that he believes the direction of park usage as will be implemented in the designs should be decided by what the community wants.

Councilmember Sandke made a motion to accept the City staff’s recommendation for the Master Plan moving forward, with the understanding that a timeline will be presented to the council for those steps in January. Mayor Bailey requested a report on existing field usage either as a part of the agenda report or an additional report. City Manager Friend agreed to both points, though mentioned a full field usage report may not be able to be completed by January but would discuss with staff and come back to the council with a reasonable date they could present something comprehensive to the council for their use.

The motion was seconded and passed with all members of the council voting in favor. Following final comments on inter-agency assignments, the council meeting was adjourned.

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