Committee opens door for parks and rec ideas

Steve Powell, right, talks to committee members about the benefits of improving the pool area at Ramona High School. Sentinel photo/Karen Brainard
Steve Powell, right, talks to committee members about the benefits of improving the pool area at Ramona High School. Sentinel photo/Karen Brainard

By Karen Brainard

With over $600,000 available for recreational uses in the community, the Parks and Recreation Subcommittee of the Ramona Community Planning Group is seeking projects to consider at its July 22 meeting and plans to create a priority list in August.

“I want to keep this thing moving,” Subcommittee Chair Jim Cooper said at the group’s May 20 meeting.

The county’s Park Lands Dedication Ordinance (PLDO) funds for Ramona comes from park fees that are collected when building permits are issued. As of Jan. 31, the funds totaled $631,060 and can only be used for parkland acquisition and development in Ramona primarily for active recreational uses.

Examples of such uses are sports fields, court games, swimming pools, children’s play areas, recreation buildings and picnic areas. Among items considered ineligible for PLDO funds are preservation of open space and acquisition of nature study areas, golf courses, riding and hiking trails, and water courses.

The subcommittee approved a project request form for PLDO funds that Cooper presented. The five-page form for applicants to complete asks for a proposed project’s description; details, such as who it will serve, if it will generate revenue, and whether permits or environmental documents will be needed; and estimated costs. Cooper has suggested that each project have a person identified as its “champion.”

Cooper said he is still working on an avenue for the form to be easily accessible to the community.

One item that has been on the priority list is a skatepark for which $90,000 is earmarked. The Arriba Skatepark Committee would like to build a site for skateboarders within the area designated for the Ramona Intergenerational Community Campus (RICC) on Main Street between 12th and 13th streets. Nancy Roy, who is  on the skatepark committee, said she met with RICC committee May 16.

“We found there were no obstacles in our path from moving forward,” she said, adding that the group hopes to meet with Tom Fincher with the county’s General Services Department about the proposed skatepark.

Resident Steve Powell told the subcommittee about an idea to improve the pool area at Ramona High School, noting that in addition to high school swim sports, the pool serves the community in the summer and is used for swim lessons.

“It really is more than just a pool for the high school,” he said.

Powell said Granite Hills High School in El Cajon is an older school like Ramona High but recently built an aquatic center that he said is “off the charts.” Powell, whose son, Brandon, is on the RHS swim team, was at Granite Hills aquatic center when it hosted the CIF swim finals.

Ramona High’s pool is old, he said, and there are maintenance and logistical issues.

“We need a responsible pool that’s safe,” said Powell.

He added that it could generate revenue that could be poured into updating other buildings on campus.

Cooper said $250,000 of PLDO funds has been earmarked for an athletic complex at Ramona High School, which is priority No. 2 by the planning group; however, there have been obstacles. The 40 acres of school district property behind Ramona High include 17 acres dedicated to vernal pools, which has stymied the project, according to the subcommittee.

Cooper questioned if the community would instead support aquatic improvements. Powell said he plans to meet with the architect who works with the school district in early June. He told the

Sentinel

that his idea is “very preliminary in nature.”

Resident Ken Brennecke gave an informational presentation on his plans to create a world-class botanical garden and supporting research facility. A trustee of San Diego Botanic Garden in Encinitas and a founder of the American Bamboo Society, Brennecke said he bought his property at Boundary Avenue and Ramona Street in 1981 because he considered it the best site for a botanical garden within 50 miles, due to such factors such as elevation and   water availability.

Brennecke said he has already begun planting. Long range plans call for public access to established walkways, germplasm exchanges, a tissue culture lab and a herbarium.

   
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