New Bubbles Floated for Shores
Art Olson | Avenida Primavera | Chair, Shores Park Advisory Committee
Dena Harris, Head of Winston School, presents new strategy for the Shores Park Master Plan at January 17 City Council meeting.
Photo Art Olson.
Click to enlarge.
After a six-month hiatus, planning for the Shores Park has been revived, but with a new prospect of working together with the Winston School toward a project that entails a shared use master planning effort. Up to this point, the Shores Master Planning effort and Winston Schools Master Planning effort were proceeding independently and on separate time-tables -- and the boundaries of the City’s Park and the leased School space were viewed as separate and distinct, but with an understanding that some facilities, such as parking and playing fields could be be shared. The idea of this new approach is to treat the entirety of the Shores Property as a single “open canvas” where planning would be done in concert by the two entities, and the concept of shared-use would be one of the explicit design goals. A shared-use approach could be beneficial in maximizing public benefit and minimizing neighborhood impact, as well as increasing the possibilities of space usage and design effectiveness.
The Shores Advisory Committee, in conjunction with the landscape architectural consultant Schmidt Design Group, had already done much work to gather input from the community on the desired amenities for the Park, and a list of preferred recreational amenities was developed. Using this information the Schmidt Design group developed three “bubble diagrams” which were alternative conceptual schemes for the use of the available space to accommodate the most desired park amenities. These were presented to the Committee and subsequently to the City Council in January of 2016. The Council concurred with the Committee and approved the three concepts presented as a basis to move forward with the Master Planning process by getting community input on the alternatives, but requested rough cost estimates of the three concepts as information for the comparison. As is not unusual in Del Mar, parking arose as an unresolved issue, which required more work and discussion with the Winston School to resolve, and the estimation of the relative costs stalled.
In August, Dena Harris was appointed as the new Head of School for the Winston School. Ms. Harris, who has had previous experience in developing shared-use park/school facilities expressed her enthusiasm and vision for such an approach for the Shores Property. Ms. Harris presented her ideas at a Shores Advisory Committee on December 14, 2016, and there was active discussion and general enthusiasm to pursue the concept. It was recognized that there could be a number of stumbling blocks in terms of coordinated timing in fund-raising, and potential difficulties in satisfying both the school and the general communities’ needs, but shared-use planning was seen as a worthwhile goal to explore.
In moving forward the City Staff developed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the two entities and presented it to the City Council on January 16. Along with the MOU they presented a 6-month timetable to explore and evaluate the potential of the shared-use approach, which includes a SWOT (Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis, development of three new concept diagrams, and public workshops for community input. After some public discussion both pro and con, the Council decided to approve the MOU and move forward with the evaluation timetable as presented. The MOU make no firm commitment to adopt the shared-use planning process, but only to take the necessary steps to evaluate the plusses and minuses of the approach. The Council approved an expenditure of up to $15,000 for the Schmidt Group to work with the Winston Schools architect, OBR Architecture to develop the new bubble diagrams. While some present at the Council meeting expressed concerns that the Shores Committee work to this point would be cast aside and planning would be further delayed, they were assured by the Council that the recreational amenity priorities obtained in the public outreach phase of their work would stand unchanged as input to the joint-use planning process, and that the potential benefits of joint planning would be worth the extra time and effort.