Alpine will soon get its first major park, with the first $11.4 million portion of the project approved by San Diego County Supervisors in December.
The park will cover 98 acres with 25 acres developed as an active park with playgrounds and picnicking areas.
The rest will be restored as native habitat with a series of trails running through it.
“Alpine is going to find this park wonderful,” said George Barnett, a former member of the Alpine Planning Group. “The only parkland we have is the one-acre kiddy park owned by the school department, Boulder Oaks.”
“We’re providing the recreational amenities that Alpine is lacking,” said Kasia Trojanowska, the county deputy director of development and landscape architecture.
“There are some partnerships that we have with the schools, but they have constraints to who and when those amenities can be used,” Trojanowska said. “Typically, they’re not available to public use during the school hours and there are still priorities for different user groups to use those facilities.”
Planning for the park had been in the works for about 10 years, and the county bought the property in 2019 for $1.6 million.
“We had been looking for a park space for quite a while and Alpine is a tricky area. The geography is tough. It’s rocky. It’s not very flat,” said Jessica Geiszler, marketing and outreach manager for the Department of Parks and Recreation.
Construction of the first phase of the new park is scheduled to begin in the spring and finish in winter 2025.
The park was designed by MW Peltz and Associates, based in Solana Beach, and refined through a series of five public meetings over a three-year period that started in 2019.
A general contractor has yet to be selected.
2 Phase Project
“In this initial phase, we really plan to develop about 10 acres of the park,” Trojanowska said.
It will include utilities, an equestrian staging area, connections to some of the existing trails, an off-leash dog park, picnic areas, a community garden, a park office and restrooms, sports courts for basketball and pickleball, and parking.
The second phase of the project, projected to cost $23.6 million, will include developing a baseball field, a bicycle skill course, a fitness station, a multipurpose building with additional restrooms, and more parking.
The timing on the development of the rest of the park will depend on when funding is available, Trojanowska said.
As part of the initial development, the main plaza at the entrance of the park will have a restroom building and a shaded area with picnic tables and benches leading to a playground.
There also will be a concrete pad for a volunteer ranger to park a camper and serve and keep watch over the park.
“It’s really just a safety measure to ensure we have someone there 24-7 to answer questions, to make sure that nothing happens on site after hours, to open gates, to take out the trash,” Geiszler said.
Volunteers bring their own campers and live on site for a six-month term, Geiszler said.
Balancing Recreation, Restoration
A vegetation buffer will surround the park.
“We’ve been working with our team and the fire department on creating a fire buffer made of native plants, so it’s going to really blend in,” Trojanowska said, adding that the site “was vacant, but disturbed.”
“What that means is, this is not an ecologically thriving environment,” Trojanowska said. ““The whole idea of the park is to blend in with the natural environment and with the area so the planting will be drought tolerant.”
Restoring the land to its natural condition will be a big part of the project.
“We’re basically building a park on the land that was disturbed already, an area that already had a lot of human traffic, a lot of vehicle use, a lot of foot traffic,” Geiszler said. “It’s really important to us that we’re balancing recreation opportunity with efforts to protect the land and the local environment. It is a beautiful area with some incredible native species, and we do live in a biodiverse hotspot here in San Diego County.”
While the project will include adding new trails, they’ll be done “in a very controlled way so we can still protect the habitat – the plants, the animals – but at the same time, allow people to use the area,” Trojanowska said.
San Diego County Parks and Recreation Department
Headquarters: Kearny Mesa
Director: Brian Albright
Business: public park and recreation agency
Annual budget: $70.7 million (2022-23)
Notable: The department oversees 154 facilities covering 56,000 acres, including parks, campgrounds, sports parks, community centers, open space preserves and historic sites