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Controversy continues to haunt future plans for Scripps Park

A controversial proposal to relocate Scripps Park’s existing Bridge Club from its current location to an open area away from the bluffs has been officially dropped. What remains is a proposal to create a master plan to guide maintenance and development of the 119-year-old, 5.6-acre Scripps Park crowning La Jolla Cove.

Residents were asked to weigh in on particulars of the master plan, which is still in rough form. Jaruska Solyova, a yoga teacher at the Bridge Club, has been an outspoken critic of the master plan.

“Any activities in the park should not be controlled by any park board,” she said. “Leave the system as it is. Just spend money where it is necessary to improve the park.”

A proposal to create a new committee to guide implementation of the master plan met with a cool reception at the Oct. 16 meeting. A room vote opposed the proposal by a 24-7 margin.

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The proposal was offered by park consultant Doug Campbell of Santa Monica-based Campbell & Campbell and the 15-member park steering committee, comprised of a broad spectrum of park users.

The proposed committee would be comprised of appointees from La Jolla Town Council, La Jolla Community Planning Association and Promote La Jolla. It would be charged with overseeing park maintenance, as well as implementing a number of physical improvements to enhance the park’s aesthetics and accessibility, as well as taking action to prevent erosion and water pollution along the coastal bluffs.

“Scripps is a resource park, not a park with a lot of activities,” said Patrick A

hern, steering committee chair. “There are mostly passive uses, people picknicking, playing frisbee, etc.”

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Scripps Park activities are presently controlled by the city Parks Department.

Another master plan proposal to create a five-foot-wide walkway through the middle of the park’s grassy area to provide disabled access to a barbecue area was also voted down 30-4.

A letter was read from La Jolla Town Councilmember Michelle Addington urging the committee to reconsider its proposal to move the Scripps Park Comfort Station away from the bluffs and closer to Coast Boulevard. Addington believes doing so would be disruptive to park users. She also cautioned against allowing the park to be commercialized by private interests.

Mary Coakley, a member of La Jolla Parks and Rec Board, said Scripps Park’s comfort station ought to be redesigned to provide maximum function in minimum space.

Problems identified with Scripps Park by its master plan steering committee include inadequate parking, below-standard restroom facilities, insufficient or undermaintained showers, lack of benches, unclean picnic tables, inappropriate and mixed fencing materials, corroded drainage pipes and trees kept standing by guy wires and posts.

They also identified as problems a lifeguard tower in poor condition and without adequate storage, a cave at the Cove in danger of collapsing, park benches in poor condition, insufficient access for the handicapped, light poles without light fixtures, dead or dying trees and more than 100 illegal storm water and non-point source drains discharging into the ocean.

The Scripps Park master plan considers the park’s land and waters as parts of an inseparable whole that needs to be preserved and enhanced. The master plan asserts that failure to take concerted action to correct park problems will lead to irreversible deterioration of a world-class, irreplaceable resource.

The revised Scripps Park master plan calls for implementation of a number of park improvements.

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They include:

  • Reconfiguring and renovating the park’s storm water drain system to reduce erosion and pollution.
  • Improving or replacing the existing irrigation system to conserve water, prevent over-watering and streamline maintenance.
  • Relocating the present bathhouse closer to Coast Boulevard and redesigning it to a smaller scale with a more historic La Jolla character.
  • Retaining an arborist to oversee park landscaping and maintenance.
  • Replacing hodgepodge perimeter railings with a uniform system, preferably a low seat wall similar to the one along the Point.
  • Establishing uniform park signage and clustering it in two or three low monuments at the park’s primary access points.
  • Replacing existing, exotic ice plant with deep-rooted indigenous plant species to prevent erosion and provide native wildlife habitat.
  • Controlling the park’s rodent population.
  • Improve existing historic pedestrian access ways between Prospect Street and Coast Boulevards.

Neil Murray, one of the park steering committee’s 15 members, notes there have always been two things true about the park over time: It’s always been a centerpiece of the community, and it’s always been a contentious place with disparate opinions over how it is to be used.
The Scripps Park Project began in 2001 with concerned individuals wanting to develop a long-term plan for the park’s maintenance and development. In a survey of 140 Scripps Park users conducted by the steering committee in October 2005, it was found that most who use the park use it frequently, some on a daily basis. Sixty percent of those surveyed reside in San Diego County, 18 percent lived in La Jolla and 9 percent were visiting from outside the United States.

The draft master plan can be found at www.scrippspark.com.