No current plans for field lighting at Encinitas Community Park, officials say

No current plans for field lighting at Encinitas Community Park, officials say
The skatepark is taking shape at the Encinitas Community Park. During a community meeting, Encinitas Parks and Recreation Department officials clarified that there are no plans for stadium lighting at the park. They also discussed the likely park hours and a delay in the park’s opening. Photo courtesy of Encinitas Parks and Recreation Department

ENCINITAS — Tall poles that were recently erected at the Encinitas Community Park aren’t for field lighting, park officials said at a meeting on Tuesday updating residents on the progress of construction. 

In the past, neighbors of the park voiced strong opposition to stadium lighting. At the meeting, they worried the newly installed poles will support high-beam fixtures.

“We know that there have been some rumors circulating in the public that these poles you see in the photograph there are for lights,” said Stephanie Kellar, associate civil engineer with the city. “And that’s unfortunately misinformation.”

The poles will hold netting to stop foul baseballs, parks and recreation officials clarified.

Installing field lighting at the park would require approval from the Planning Commission, City Council and the California Coastal Commission.

“This would not be a city employee decision,” City Manager Gus Vina said, adding that the City Council hasn’t weighed in on field lights for the park.

Parks and Recreation Director Lisa Rudloff said there are no current plans for field lighting. However, the ground is “plumbed” for such lighting if any proposals come about.

There will be fixtures with LED lights for pedestrians along the parking lot, the access drive and the sidewalks. Those will not illuminate any of the sports fields, Kellar emphasized. One-third of the lights will remain on throughout the night for security reasons.

Additionally, officials talked about pushing back the park’s opening date, sports field scheduling and the park’s tentative hours.

Rudloff said the city originally planned on the park debuting in spring 2014. Construction is on schedule, but the turf can’t be planted until spring, and it needs “time to establish,” she said. So, the new opening date is fall 2014.

The community park, located west of Interstate 5 and south of Santa Fe Drive, will contain a skatepark, dog park, multi-use fields, a playground and other amenities. Work began on the park in September 2012; construction is estimated to cost $19.3 million.

Some residents asked about the process for determining which sports organizations can use the fields. As a starting point, Rudloff said city staff members will sit down with the sports groups to try and hash it out.

Right now, construction crews are completing the park’s sidewalk and focusing on irrigation, and planting vegetation is next. Recent pictures show amenities like the skatepark and playground are taking shape.

The park’s hours will likely be sunrise to 10 p.m., which is in line with other parks in Encinitas, officials said. In response, several neighbors voiced concern that 10 p.m. is too late given the large number of people who will use the park.

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