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SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO : City OKs 1st Phase of Sports Complex

September 23, 1993|LEN HALL

Nearly four years after approving a historic $21-million bond measure to buy open space and parks, city residents this fall will see a concrete return for their tax dollars in the beginnings of a 25-acre sports complex.

The City Council unanimously approved the design of the first phase of the complex Tuesday night. It calls for three fields, a parking lot and a landscaped and lighted walkway to the sports area next to Marco F. Forster Middle School, on the Kinoshita Farm site. The council allocated $607,000 for this phase.

Up until now, the city has spent staff time and bond money purchasing property for its Open Space Master Plan, but the sports complex will put the plan into effect, Mayor Gil Jones said.

"This is the very first step--a giant step--toward the realization of what we have all been working for for many years," Jones said. "We will have new ball fields to play on shortly."

Councilman Jeff Vasquez agreed.

"This is exciting," Vasquez said. "In difficult economic times for many cities, we are still able to forge ahead and create some new amenities for our residents."

A baseball field, a softball field and a soccer field that is overlaid on the other two fields are included in the first phase, as well as dugouts, backstops and bleachers, said Sharon Heider, the city's open space project manager. The parking lot will have 117 spaces.

The second phase will include the start of a 31,000-square-foot community center--about 5,000 square feet initially--and more ball fields, including three soccer fields that can also be used as softball fields, Heider said.

A survey of the community indicated that ball fields were a significant need in the city, so that's where the city staff has focused its attention, Heider said.

"Ball fields were identified as a big need in this community, so we are doing our best to get them in the ground quickly," she said. "We have a very accelerated schedule."

The city will ask for bids on the first phase next month with construction expected to start in December, said Mechelle Lawrence, an assistant planner. The project should be completed in 120 days with the ball fields in use by October, 1994, Lawrence said.

City voters overwhelmingly approved the bond measure in April, 1990. Dubbed Measure D, it called for the purchase of about 120 acres in the northern and southern sections of the city. Using those funds, the city bought the 56-acre Kinoshita Farm for $9.5 million and the 30-acre Swanner Ranch at the north end for $6.9 million.

"Folks back in 1990 agreed to invest in the open space and (the sports park) will be the first step in the culmination of that investment," Councilman Gary L. Hausdorfer said. "People will now actually step foot on the property."

Much of the remaining bond money may be used to buy the 30-acre Williams Ranch, also at the north end of the city.

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