Day in the Park
The City of Encinitas recently held a ribbon-cutting ceremony and “Day in the Park” festivities to welcome the new addition to the city: the Encinitas Community Park. With a two-acre dog park, a skate park spanning 13,000 square feet, a soccer field, three multi-use fields, and open turf areas for unrestricted play, the park will further enhance the quality of life in Encinitas and shape new memories for children and adults alike. Parks and Recreation Director Lisa Rudloff talks to 92024 Magazine about the grand opening and the amenities and activites available to the public at the sprawling 44-acre park.
Q & A with Parks and Recreation Director Lisa Rudloff
Please provide us with information about the inspiration behind the Encinitas Community Park. When did the idea to construct a new park come to fruition?
Inspiration for this park began to take shape in early 2000 when the Hall family – longtime flower growers who played a prominent role in the local horticulture industry – offered to exclusively sell their 44-acre greenhouse property to the City of Encinitas for the purpose of creating a park for the community to enjoy.
When did construction on the new park begin?
The City of Encinitas closed escrow on the property in 2001 and launched the master planning process soon after. City staff dedicated the next few years to working with the community to help develop a vision for the park, which culminated in 2003 with the Encinitas City Council approving a design that included a skate park, dog park, playground, sports fields, and walking trails. Future phases of the park site include an amphitheater, teen center, and aquatic center. The design and environmental review process carried the project through 2008 and construction plans were finalized through 2011. In 2012 there was a groundbreaking to celebrate the start of construction for the new park, which by then was officially called the Encinitas Community Park.
Tell us about opening day at the park. What were the main attractions of the day?
Thousands of people showed up at the grand opening event, which was an exciting day as we had three ribbon cutting ceremonies throughout the park. First up was the skate park, then we moved to the Maggie Houlihan Memorial dog park, and ended at the ball fields.
We celebrated a “Day in the Park” with classic park games for the kids near the playground area, youth sport league scrimmages and clinics on the fields, a pet health exposition at the dog park, and of course, some great skater demonstrations and public education information about why it’s so important to wear your safety gear in the skate park!
We had tremendous support from our local businesses and community partners in providing the grand opening event. The Dog House Diner provided complimentary hot dogs and chips for the first 1,000 people. Seaside Market provided complimentary recyclable bags for the first 1,000 people full of fabulous items by our local businesses that included Vons, Encinitas Sushi Lounge, Pet Haus, Encinitas Florist, Yummy Cupcakes, Rita’s Italian Ice, AMR Ambulance Services, MiraCosta College, Ablantis Dental, EDCO, Angel Printing, CO’s Traffic, and Scripps Health. We also appreciate that Scripps Health had personnel on-site providing public education about preventative safety while involved in skating and sports. Arnette Eyewear sponsored the skate park festivities. The support of our local businesses and partners speaks volumes for the kind of generosity and community spirit we have here in Encinitas.
At-A-Glance | Lisa Rudloff
Profession: Parks and Recreation Director
How is the park funded?
The Encinitas Community Park was made possible through a variety of funding sources that included the city’s general funds (bonds), state grants, and park development fees. Costs for the various stages of this project were:
Land acquisition: $18,200,000
EIR, design, and development: $5,250,000
What type of efforts were made to make the park more eco-friendly?
Bermuda Tiffway II sod and stolons, commonly called “sprigs,” were installed because that type of grass has the shortest winter dormancy of all the hybrid Bermuda turf grasses, does well in coastal regions, has great drought tolerance, and has excellent durability and wear tolerance.
The dry creek near the walking trail is beautiful, but it’s more than an aesthetic feature. It also serves as a storm water treatment system that captures runoff from the park, and via infiltration and vegetative flow-through, treats the runoff before the water leaves the park site.
DRAINAGE BASIN AND ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS
The drainage basin receives storm water runoff and treats pollutants in the water before it leaves the park site. By using a sophisticated system with an upstream storm filter and underground pipe network, we are able to significantly reduce the amount of surface runoff and potential pollutants that enter the storm drain system and ultimately flow into the ocean.
What are some of the unique aspects or programs available at Encinitas Community Park?
The Encinitas Community Park truly offers something for everyone. The 13,000-square-foot skate park features an urban plaza and skate bowl, the dedicated dog park includes separate areas for small and large dogs, the 1.5-mile walking trail loop circles a dry creek, and the sports complex boasts a concession stand, soccer field, three multi-use fields, and two practice fields. In addition, there are two restroom facilities and more than 400 parking spaces across five parking areas.
The Parks and Recreation Department strives to provide diverse recreational opportunities and programs for people and pets at the Encinitas Community Park within structured and unstructured settings. Staff has outlined a “year-at-a-glance” approach to demonstrate possible programming use and scheduling for the park. This approach provides examples of programming types and potential user age groups, balancing the need for open play and unstructured park leisure time with structured, organized activities which support active lifestyles and community health.
Once programming begins in spring of this year, the community may look forward to an active, accessible, affordable, and safe community park boasting diverse recreational opportunities and programming for people of all ages and their pets.
SKATE PARK USE
The skate park is a highly desired feature of the park and the community will have access to daily unstructured use. Parks and Recreation staff plans to host camps, clinics, and special events throughout the year to serve community program interests, including programming, youth/teen skate camp, youth/teen five-week skate clinic, all ages skate safety jam event, and more (subject to change).
ATHLETIC FIELDS USE
Over the past 25 years, the City of Encinitas has worked with the Sports Coalition on Recreation Excellence (SCORE), a variety of qualified youth sports organizations in the community to meet their athletic field use needs. Parks and Recreation staff works to meet their needs through a collaboratively managed Athletic Field Use Allocation Program. Athletic Field use in the park will be in accordance with the Athletic Field Use Allocation Guide and Permit Application, specifically outlining the guidelines and requirements associated with the management of athletic field use allocations in the City of Encinitas.
DOG PARK USE
The Maggie Houlihan Memorial Dog Park is a highly anticipated section of the park and the community will have daily unstructured use. Parks and Recreation staff plans to conduct programming and special events throughout the year to serve community program interests such as dog training and obedience classes and pet health expos (subject to change).
SPECIAL OPERATIONS PERMIT USE
Birthday parties: All groups of 25 or more are required to obtain a special event permit to hold a gathering in public recreational areas per EMC 6.11. Groups under 25 are not required to obtain a special event permit.
Classes: Instruction for all types of classes on public recreational property requires a commercial use permit per EMC 6.14.
This facility contains several Environmental Impact Report requirements that must be met with organized activity and restricts organized activity between the hours of 8 a.m. and sunset. Following the official opening on Jan. 10, the City of Encinitas will assess general public use of the facility before scheduled commercial use begins. Permit applications are located at www.encinitasca.gov under the segment titled “I Want To, Find Forms Applications and Permits, Under the Parks and Recreation Department.”
The Parks and Recreation Department utilizes a park host at Encinitas Community Park on a full-time basis. The primary role of a park host is to have a visible presence in the park and serve as the “eyes and ears” for staff members and the Sheriff’s department. This is an unpaid position; however, the park host is provided with a utility hook-up and service at no cost. The park host daily hours vary, however, they are on-site seven days a week.
At-A-Glance | Encinitas Community Center
Address: 425 Santa Fe Dr., Encinitas, CA 92024
Hours: General hours: 5 a.m. – 10 p.m.; Skate park, dog park,
ball fields: 8 a.m. – sunset
Are there fees to use the park?
There are no fees for regular, general use of the park. Fees are assessed for limited special events and authorized through the special operations permit process.
What was the most memorable part of working on the Encinitas Community Park project?
My most memorable part about working on this project was during the grand opening celebration when former Major League Baseball player and Encinitas resident Matt Nokes threw the first pitch on the baseball diamond. I took great pride knowing that the lives of future generations of Encinitas youth will be shaped by the experiences and memories forged on these same fields and that they too may achieve their greatest dreams as Matt did.
Are there any resources specifically for children, teens, adults, or seniors?
The park is a resource for people of all ages and abilities from tiny tots on the playground to younger children, adults, and seniors playing on the baseball and soccer fields.
What resources are available for pets?
There is a dedicated two-acre off-leash dog park with separate areas for dogs that are visiting for the first time, as well as both large and small dogs. The dog park is a first-of-its-kind in Encinitas and would not have been possible without the tremendous support from the dog-loving community here in Encinitas.
Now that the park is open, what is in store for the future work on the park?
Future phases of the park could potentially include an amphitheater, teen center, and aquatic center.
How will the park benefit Encinitas now and over time?
The Encinitas Community Park will enrich Encinitas now and for generations to come by providing access to the serenity and inspiration of nature, outdoor space to play and exercise, facilities for self-directed and organized recreation, positive alternatives for youth – which help lower crime and mischief – and activities that facilitate social connections, human development, therapy, the arts, and lifelong learning.
If you could describe the park in four words or less what would you say?
Parks make life better!
The Encinitas Community Park consists of 44 acres.
The park measures approximately 1,917,000 square feet.
Irrigated landscapes make up 1,350,000 square feet.
The dog park spans 88,000 square feet.
The skate park spans 13,000 square feet.