Park’s divots, dog waste, cause problems for parents in La Jolla

Dogs play off-leash at Bird Rock Elementary School’s joint-use park.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

Parents at Bird Rock Elementary School have come forward with concerns about conditions at the joint-use park the school shares with the public that are leading to student injuries. To explain the issues and garner possible solutions, Bird Rock Foundation member and parent Jennifer Holley spoke at the La Jolla Parks & Beaches meeting Jan. 28.

“The Bird Rock Community Council’s concern is the loose dogs and waste left behind,” she told the board. “I’ve spoken with the Bird Rock Elementary School’s phys-ed teacher who said the main concern is that there’s not a lot of functionality (to ground turf) because there’s been so much erosion. The track and the baseball fields are not usable. The fields are not flat, they’re full of divots, and have all kinds of weeds and crabgrass growing in them.”

There are deep divots throughout the grass at Bird Rock Elementary School’s field. Ashley Mackin-Solomon

The deep holes have led to 42 student injuries since the beginning of the academic year, Holley reported. “We’ve seen twisted ankles, falls, etc. I twisted my own ankle while visiting my kindergartner one day,” she said.

And although the park has several signs posted that indicate all dogs on the premises must be leashed and owners must pick up after their dogs, dogs are reported off-leash and school administrators must check the fields each day for dog waste before students can use them.

City of San Diego spokesperson Tim Graham told La Jolla Light plans were underway — but unscheduled — to repair the park. “(Different City departments) are looking at potentially doing a top dressing and over-seed of the field this summer. They’re choosing a summer timeline because school will not be in session and the warmer weather will be better for the grass to grow.”

In the meantime, Holley said she would reach out to the La Jolla Rotary Club to explore the possibility of a Rotary grant to pay for interim fixes, and the San Diego Parks Foundation for larger grants. Ideally, Holley said she would like to see whether the City’s Parks Master Plan could address some of the school’s concerns with long-term solutions.

The park, located at 5371 La Jolla Hermosa, is maintained by the City through a joint-use agreement with the San Diego Unified School District. The park is open to the public up to 30 minutes before the start of the school day and 30 minutes after the end of the school day. On weekends, holidays and other non-school days, the park is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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