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Commentary: Flawed Design?
Jill Gartman | Pine Needles Drive

Site Plan.
Source: Del Mar Heights School Rebuild website.

Click on image to enlarge.

In 1970, Arthur Allard, Richard Glinski, and Melvin Peterson, as school district trustees, approved the community use of the Heights school fields for baseball. Fifty years later, unless school district leaders change course, their legacy will be taking away the largest playing fields in Del Mar. When a recent Heights graduate heard about the loss of the large fields she said, “Adults want to give kids these ‘perfect lives’ and they just keep taking everything away.”

A retired Heights teacher, who is in her ‘80s, shared her wisdom with a former student when discussing the loss of the large fields stating, “preservation is a value that has to take priority over bigger is better.” That sentiment is the character of Del Mar in a nutshell - it’s why we love living here. We love our parks and open space. With our community plan, we walk the talk.

The new school at the Heights will be paid for by the elementary school bond on our property tax bill. The new school is projected to serve roughly the same number of students - yet the proposed site plan will reduce our Heights playing fields by over 50%. What field will remain is not adequate for P.E. and recess according to the California Department of Education rules. In fact, the Heights field will become the smallest school field in all of Del Mar Union School District.

How did we get to this point? Well, the school district campaigns that this is a community desired design, but in reality, a small group of community members and teachers participated in a handful of meetings last spring that resulted in the current design. Most people were unaware that the meetings were even taking place. There are alternative designs for building a new modern school and saving our large playing fields.

While the district is focused on delivering the community modern buildings, those buildings will be outdated sooner than you think. Today’s sixty year old Heights’ buildings were, in 1959, a modern masterpiece of school architecture. Fifty years from now, the community won’t care that the school built in 2020 was the “school of the future.” But people will remember the loss of the large playing fields forever. We think these fields are too important to pave over, so we have created a citizen’s group to work to preserve these vital playing fields while supporting a responsible school rebuild - playoutsidedelmar.org.


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