Possible North Crestview Park redevelopment divides San Carlos community

A proposal to transform the natural landscape of San Carlos’ North Crestview Park into a sports area and playground has split some of the park’s neighbors between supporters and those who want to preserve it as-is.

UPDATE, Dec. 5 at 3:15 p.m. PT - Commissioners vote in favor of recommending a passive plan of least site development

At the San Carlos Parks, Recreation and Culture Commission meeting on Nov. 30, 2016, commissioners passed a 3-2 vote in favor of recommending the passive plan of least site development to the City Council. The other two commissioners voted in favor of the mixed-use concept with some further amendments.

Original story:

A proposal to transform the natural landscape of San Carlos’ North Crestview Park into a sports area and playground has split some of the park’s neighbors, who want to preserve it as-is, and others in the community who support the plan.

At San Carlos’ Parks, Recreation and Culture Commission meeting on Oct. 5, Callander Associates, a landscape architecture firm, showed three designs for North Crestview labeled the active, mixed-use and passive-concept plans. The commission did not vote on which proposal to recommend to the city council, since only three of its five members were present.

The active plan involves maximum site development, and its main feature is a large sports field with a vehicular driveway and parking. The mixed use plan entails moderate site development and adds a smaller sports area and parking, as well as a playground and walking path with exercise equipment. The passive plan, which requires the least amount of site development, would upgrade natural walking trails and add benches.

The city has so far set aside $100,000 for the potential projects, which range in cost from $350,000 for the passive plan to up to $2.3 million for the active plan.

The clash over North Crestview Park represents the changing nature of San Carlos, pitting residents without young children, who are fighting for limited or no development to preserve the current aesthetic, against families who would benefit from more recreational facilities for their young kids.

North Crestview Park is 4.3 acres – or about three football fields – of open land. The park offers greenery and a natural walking trail, leading to San Carlos’ highest point of elevation at around 860 feet with views across the Bay.

On Nov. 30, the parks commission is slated to recommend one of the proposals to the City Council.

San Carlos City Councilman Mark Olbert said he needs to see details of the three proposals before deciding.

“Nobody likes losing what they have,” Olbert said in an interview. “But what I would ask people to remember is it wasn’t yours to begin with, and there are other people out there whose needs and interests and passions are important also. We have to factor those people in as part of a community.”

Marten Mills, president of San Carlos United Soccer Club, said the city needs more field space to accommodate the growing sports community, which includes youth soccer, softball and little league. According to Mills, there are currently about 2,100 kids enrolled in San Carlos United and San Carlos American Youth Soccer Organization combined, which has made scheduling games and practices difficult.

Although he would prefer the plan that offers the biggest field, Mills said he supports the mixed use concept with the smaller field, since the proposal offers more amenities for the whole community.

Others in favor of heavier site development agree that more park features – whether they include a sports field, playground, exercise equipment or all of the above – would appeal to a greater number of residents, and that those against it don’t want an increase in park visitors. “If you have a quiet area that no one’s ever been in before through the 20 years that you’ve lived there, you don’t want to see that go away,” Olbert said.

However, residents who support limited or no site development argue there are more than enough parks in San Carlos geared toward kids and sports.

Alisande Rozynko, who lives across from North Crestview, said, “Almost every park that I have seen in this city has either a playing field on it or some sort of activity for children, whether it’s a playground, or basketball court, or something, so there are plenty of parks that have been dedicated for community use.”

Of the 17 formally recognized parks in San Carlos, eight have a playground, sports venue or both, a chart on the City of San Carlos website shows. Many of those opposed to heavier development and modifications, however, believe no other park is as secluded and serene as North Crestview.

“I can’t go to any other park in town and get away from the road and sit quietly without hearing sports or whatever else is going on,” said Parks and Recreation Commissioner Sherry Selwood, the only one of three commissioners at the Oct. 5 meeting who said she would support the passive plan of least development. The other two in attendance signaled they supported the mixed-use plan with some adjustments.

At the Nov. 30 meeting, the parks commission will vote on which plan to recommend to the city council, who will then make the final decision on what happens with North Crestview Park.

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