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‘Everything is going well’ after La Jolla Rec Center playgrounds reopen with coronavirus restrictions

Signs at the La Jolla Recreation Center spell out guidelines for playground use.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

It seems to be so far, so good at the La Jolla Recreation Center playgrounds, which are again open for public use under posted rules and restrictions reflecting county health guidelines during the coronavirus pandemic.

The playgrounds opened a few weeks ago and “everything is going well,” San Diego Parks & Recreation Department area manager Rosalia Castruita told the La Jolla Community Recreation Group during its Oct. 28 meeting.

Signs indicate a 10-person capacity in each playground and inform visitors that the play equipment is not sanitized. “Use at your own risk,” the signs caution.

The La Jolla Recreation Center playgrounds have a 10-person capacity in each.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

The signs also direct playground users to limit their visit to 30 minutes when others are waiting. They also prohibit eating and drinking in the play areas.

Caregivers must ensure that adults and children from different households stay at least six feet apart, and masks are required for all.

CRG member Lizzet Fitz Cluster said having the playgrounds open has been “lifesaving for all the little ones.”

The pickleball courts are in use, having recently been striped atop the newly resurfaced basketball courts, though those who wish to play pickleball must still bring their own nets, balls and paddles, as checkout of those items is not available. Indoor Rec Center facilities are still closed, but passive use by small groups of families is allowed on the fields, playgrounds and courts.

Rec Center Director Jesse DeLille said staff is keeping track of the hours the pickleball courts are being used, which will influence how the center sets open play hours in the future. He said pickleball currently is played mostly between 8 and 11 a.m.

No date has been set to reopen rec centers in San Diego, DeLille said. “We are still in a holding pattern.”

Other CRG news

Bocce court: Castruita said the Parks & Recreation Department has received temporary irrigation plans for the temporary bocce court that would be constructed on the Rec Center grounds along the Draper Avenue sidewalk to test its popularity and whether a permanent court should be included in plans for the Rec Center’s renovation.

The CRG began planning the installation of a bocce court in September 2017 after a resident asked on behalf of a small group of neighbors, CRG Chairwoman Mary Coakley Munk told the La Jolla Light. “The board enthusiastically supported the idea,” she said, and Tom Grunow and Bill Anderson of Grunow Construction drew up plans to submit to the city for a right-of-entry permit, which would allow non-city employees to build the court on city land with proper insurance.

“We hope to be able to begin construction soon,” Coakley Munk said. “Bocce ball is a game that can easily be played with proper social distancing.”

The Parks & Rec Department must review all documents before they’re submitted for the right-of-entry permit.

The documents compiled include irrigation plans, job scope and specs, which indicate the type of material used in the court construction, the size of the court and how it will be assembled, Castruita said.

Coakley Munk asked Castruita about the timeline for document approval. Castruita said that “once I meet with the district manager next week, we will submit [the plans] to our chain of command” for approval or return with questions generated by the review.

“I don’t have a timeline,” she said. “It’s a process; it takes a little while.”

Holiday decorations: The CRG agreed that decorating the Rec Center for the holidays, including wreaths, would continue this year.

“It’s a really nice idea,” CRG member Jill Peters said. “We need to do everything we can.”

Coakley Munk and CRG member Gail Forbes agreed, with Forbes saying having decorations up this year would be “more cherished than normal.”

Fitz Cluster said she can ask the Girl Scout troop that set up the decorations last year to do them again, and Castruita said her department would put lights along the Rec Center roof, as it did the past two years during Thanksgiving week.

The CRG’s next meeting at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 9, will include a report from the Visioning Committee on plans to renovate the Rec Center. For more information, call (858) 552-1658. ◆