Residents expressed mixed feelings Tuesday night about a master plan that officials say will change the face of Beachfront Park in the next 15–20 years.
At a meeting of the Crescent City Council and three planning commissioners, some residents said they were happy with the plan. Others were less than satisfied, saying the final result was not what they had pictured and didn’t reflect public input. Members of the local disc golf club also spoke out, expressing concern about the plan’s impacts on the 24-hole course that’s currently at the park.
Council members and planning commissioners pointed out typos and misprints in the plan and told residents that having it in place will help the city obtain funding for park enhancements. They also said none of the park’s current amenities will be removed.
“Fiscally I think we have to realize that we’re looking at a master plan,” said Planning Commission Chairman Blake Inscore. “It’s not set in stone. ... It’s trying to create a vision for the future and how it can be a benefit to this community long term.”
The plan was developed by San Luis Obispo-based RRM Design Group and is the result of two community meetings and individual meetings with stakeholder groups like the Marine Mammal Center, said associate planner Eric Taylor. The plan was paid for by Community Development Block Grant funds from 2011.
During the public meetings, residents had said they wanted to maintain the park’s soccer fields, but also create a defined space between active recreation such as soccer and passive recreation such as picnicking, Taylor said. The resulting plan includes amenities like a dog park, an amphitheater and a band stand.
City Manager Eugene Palazzo said the dog park will probably be the first feature the city would implement, likely finishing it within the next year.
During public comment, resident Jesse Salsbury said the plan includes few of the amenities the public requested, including a gong to represent the Hmong community. The only public request he could see on the plan was wheelchair access to the beach, he said.
“We were asking for cheap ideas that we’ll be able to implement with the money we have,” Salsbury said. “If you look at this plan, and you look at the park now, it’s slash and burn. Everything is gone except for the pool, the cultural center and Kid’s Town. Everything is taken out and replaced.”
Ron Cole, a member of the Wild Rivers Disk Golf Club and a coordinator for Gateway Education, a local youth enrichment organization, pointed out that disk golf is a growing sport and its participants have money and are willing to travel. People from all over the nation visit Crescent City because of its disk golf course, he said.
Cole pointed out that the plan reduces the current 24-hole frisbee golf course to an 18-hole course. He added he would like to see 24 holes maintained with the understanding that current holes and tees would remain even though they may need to be moved.
“We wanted to have the Pebble Beach of disk golf courses,” Cole said. “There are only two disk golf courses on the oceanside in the entire nation. We are one. The other one is in New Jersey and no longer exists since (Hurricane) Sandy. We are solo here.”
Mayor Rich Enea said the reference to an 18-hole course was a misprint and directed Taylor to change it. Inscore asked Cole to visit the Planning Commission to provide his thoughts on the plan.
Following the public comment period, Councilman Rick Holley said one reason to improve Beachfront Park is to bring in tourists.
“That will hopefully raise revenues and enhance our economic viability,” Holley said. “At the workshops we had, I don’t know that that was the highest priority, but it was one of the priorities that was stated. We hope to increase our tourism and that is the most viable economic dollar that we can capture.”
Taylor said he would be bringing the plan before the Planning Commission for final approval at its March 14 meeting. It will then be brought to the City Council, he said.