The Coast News Group
John Masson
Escondido City Council recently approved funding for the John Masson Memorial Bike Park. Courtesy photo

Escondido council approves bike park named after late councilman

ESCONDIDO — The Escondido City Council met on Wednesday, Nov. 18, and approved funding to build the John Masson Memorial Bike Park inside of Jesmond Dene Park. The council also heard from outgoing Councilmember Olga Diaz as she reflected on her three-term tenure on the council.

The council approved using $271,303 in Prop 68 Per Capita grant funds to build the bike park, which will be named in honor of the councilmember who passed away in March. The park will be located in Masson’s district and near his home.

Diaz became emotional during the meeting as she remembered Masson and spoke of how appropriate it is to be honoring him with a project he’d be passionate about.

“He was such a big part of the spirit of the city, and his work on skate spots and the bike park idea, these were his passions,” Diaz said. “I think he would be proud to know that we’re taking this action and making this investment.”

Mayor Paul McNamara also spoke about Masson and emphasized his enthusiasm for the city.

“He was our friend … his enthusiasm for Escondido and trying to move it forward in the right direction was contagious and genuine. We all miss him,” McNamara said.

According to the staff report, the bike park will require environmental review, Planning Commission consideration and final City Council approval before it can be incorporated into the Jesmond Dene Park Master Plan.

Staff will return to the council in January 2021 for final approval.

The council then heard from Diaz, who will be leaving City Council in a few weeks after serving three terms on the council.

Diaz said that she chose to step away to give other city residents a chance to lead and to also give herself time to refresh her perspective on what truly matters.

“I ran for office in 2006 to push back against racist, anti-immigrant and xenophobic policies … even though I lost, I didn’t quit,” Diaz said.

In 2008, Diaz ran again and won, beating a two-term incumbent and becoming the first Latina elected in the history of Escondido.

Diaz went on to thank a handful of her mentors, colleagues, friends and supporters. She reflected on her years on the council when she was the only Latina, the only Democrat and the only woman.

The councilwoman also noted the issues she has supported during her time on the council including smart growth, climate action, public parks, public services, youth engagement and the Escondido Creek Restoration.

The staff then read several comments from the public wishing Diaz well and thanking her for her years of service. The other councilmembers and the mayor also shared words of gratitude and admiration for Diaz.

Diaz said that along with her work on several nonprofit boards and ongoing work at a local college, she will be starting a doctoral program at the University of Southern California.

The installation ceremony for the new council will be held Dec. 9.