Thursday, June 13, 2024

City Council Should Reject the Cays Park Plan

Letters to the Editor submitted to The Coronado Times are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the publisher, editors or writers of this publication. Submit letters to [email protected].

Submitted by Richard Tolles

I am a 1967 CHS grad and Coronado Cays resident who used to ride his Honda scrambler on dirt paths where the Cays is now located. Fair to say that Coronado has experienced ever-increasing density since then. Now the City Council seems poised to urbanize Coronado Cays Park despite strong community opposition.

Cays Park includes 16 acres of grass, including sports fields and a dog run, framed by sky, ocean and surf. Two professional surveys commissioned by the City show that the vast majority of respondents think Coronado parks already do a good to excellent job meeting their recreational needs (79%, True North Survey, 2023) and believe that Cays Park is pretty much perfect as it is (70%, Van Dyke Survey, 2019).

Despite appreciation for Cays Park in its present form, the City commissioned a Cays Park makeover plan from a landscape architect firm (Schmidt Design) at considerable cost. Schmidt’s plan is to remake Cays Park into a smorgasbord of park areas stitched together with concrete walkways and featuring: a cantilevered wooden “view deck” complete with “artful star navigation lights;” a kite flying area called “sunset hill;” metal and fabric sun-shades; walled seating areas with “hand painted accent tiles;” “interpretive panels;” “mounds;” fitness stations; an “amphitheater” and a new City storage building. The price tag: $31.2 million!

A substantial number of residents recognize that, given existing satisfaction with Cays Park, a total Park makeover, particularly the fussy one planned by Schmidt, is completely unnecessary and fiscally irresponsible. Park users certainly do not favor any plan that takes the Park from community playing fields to a feature-laden regional park.

Residents have a number of additional concerns. Schmidt Design expects an increase in the number of Park visitors from throughout the County but admittedly has not taken into account the effects on our community. An influx of cars and people would change the quiet atmosphere of our community and cause us to lose the tranquility the Cays now offers.

The plan divides the Park into distinct areas divided by concrete walkways, hills, fences and shrubbery. There will be no easy way to police park areas that will be hidden behind the fences, hills and bushes proposed in the plan.

The proposed plan shortens the Dog Park to create space for the proposed “view deck.” Dog Park users from the Cays and the Village strongly object to shortening the Dog Park to make room for this deck when the entire park already has beautiful ocean views. A petition to maintain the size, shape and location of Dog Park with nearly 300 signatures has already been presented to the City.

The “view deck” and adjacent “garden mounds” eliminate the existing softball/baseball practice field, which consists of a recently refurbished backstop and clay infield. The Ball Field is used twice a week by a seniors’ group (of which I am a member) and is enjoyed by families and children from elementary to high school age. Petitions to save the Ball Field have already gathered about 350 signatures, with more residents signing daily. America’s pastime needs to be part of the Park!

The need to replace the Park’s irrigation system is undisputed, with the City admitting that maintenance on Cays Park has been sorely lacking. The redesign could significantly increase maintenance costs because it creates discrete areas that have greater maintenance needs. Will the City suddenly start to maintain a Park it has historically ignored? The City should focus on accomplishing immediate Park maintenance needs.

The City refers to the Schmidt proposal as the “preferred” Cays Park plan. Please don’t be misled by this. The City Council has not yet approved the plan and will not vote on it until its May 21 meeting. If you don’t think the City should spend half of its annual budget on the Cays Park plan and want to preserve the last substantial open space in our town, please write to the Council and/or voice your strong disapproval at the May 21 meeting.

Richard Tolles
Cays Resident


Editor’s Note: For more on the history of the Cays Park Master Plan project, public outreach, and past meetings, click here.

Managing Editor
Managing Editor
Originally from upstate New York, Dani Schwartz has lived in Coronado since 1996. She is happy to call Coronado home and to have raised her children here. In her free time she enjoys reading, exercising, trying new restaurants, and just walking her dog around the "island." Have news to share? Send tips or story ideas to: [email protected]

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