The joint-use field at Bird Rock Elementary School is closed to the public until Sept. 3 so it can be leveled and re-seeded to make it safer for use. Over the next few weeks, City crews will work to establish new turf before public access is restored.
Since the beginning of this year, parents have come forward with reports of twisted ankles and other injuries to their children due to uneven surfaces, deep divots and other hazards on the field at 5371 La Jolla Hermosa Ave.
San Diego Parks & Recreation area manager Rosalia Castruita explained: “As a joint-use site … it is going to be maintained by our turf management services. We are removing good amounts of grass from the turf and adding soil, seed and compost, and resting the field.” The finished work will be “rested” so it can settle for six to eight weeks, but the San Diego Unified School District and the City can extend the resting time if needed.
“Part of the reason we have the fields in the condition they are is that they don’t get the chance to rest after they are maintained,” Castruita said. “(Doing the maintenance and allowing it to rest over the summer) allows the field to flourish and optimize the downtime.”
Any sports league that uses the field in the summer will be redirected to sister sites. Classes begin for the 2019-20 school year on Aug. 26, so there will also be some time at which it will not be available for student use.
Parents first brought concerns forward about the field in January.
“I’ve spoken with the PE teacher and the main concern is there is not a lot of functionality because there has been so much erosion, so the track and the baseball field are not usable,” Bird Rock Foundation member and parent Jennifer Holley said at the Jan. 28 La Jolla Parks & Beaches meeting. “So the main issue is that the field is not flat, its divot-ed and has all kinds of weeds and crabgrass growing in it.”
The deep holes have led to 42 injuries on the field since the beginning of the 2018 academic year, Holley reported.
“We’ve seen twisted ankles, falls, etc. I twisted my own ankle while visiting my kindergartner one day,” she said.
At the time, City spokesperson Tim Graham told La Jolla Light work would be done over the summer to make the repairs when the field was less in-demand, and the warmer weather would be better for the grass to grow.
The park has several signs posted indicating all dogs on the premises must be leashed, and owners must pick up after their dog. Yet dogs have been reported being off leash, and administrators needed to check the field for dog waste before students could use it. Castruita admitted the renovation does not address the dog concern.
The park is maintained by the City through a joint-use agreement with San Diego Unified School District. When repairs are complete, it will be 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 will be open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.