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More property may be added to Hall park

ENCINITAS — The sometimes controversial Hall park might get a little bigger. City Council heard a staff report during a special meeting on Nov. 2, to direct staff to enter into negotiations with owners of property within the Hall park. However, the council convened into a brief closed session and emerged giving staff direction to gather more information about the possible purchase.
A one-acre parcel that has a commercial cut flower operation on it along with an access easement is up for grabs according to city staff.
A letter was sent Oct. 27 by property owners Gary and Jeanette Rugar, of 335 Santa Fe Drive, who offered to sell the land surrounded by the Hall park property to the city.
According to the staff report, the city could save $500,000 during the construction phase of the park if the city owned the property. The city is required to supply electricity to the commercial operation during park construction.
Councilman James Bond said that the city already offered to buy the property but was turned down before the plans were completed.
“I think the city has labored long and hard over the design of the Hall property park,” one speaker said. He said funds that would be used to buy the land should be used to purchase land in another part of the city for a community park.
“I do see this as a great opportunity for us,” Councilwoman Teresa Barth said. However, she wondered about the offer to only sell a “portion” of the property that sits as an “island” on the Hall property. “We should have more information, the public should have more information before we get into price negotiations,” Barth said.
Chris Hazeltine, director of parks and recreation said that in June 2001, an appraisal of the property in question was completed. “Yes, it’s outdated but it does speak to zoning,” he told the council.
The city purchased the 43-acre Hall property, located just west of I-5 and south of Santa Fe Drive, in 2001 for $17.2 million. After a public workshop in 2002, the council revised the initial $35 million design to include buffer areas between the site and residential neighborhoods to the west, a teen center and amphitheater.
Plans also include a dog park, baseball and five multi-use sports fields, an aquatic center, basketball court and skate park. Passive uses would encompass a portion of the park with gardens, picnic areas, trails and a scenic overlook.