Updated plans presented to OB Planning Board for new Ruth Varney Held Park
by ANTHONY S. De GARATE
Published - 11/22/18 - 08:15 AM | 1414 views | 1 1 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
At first, community leaders wanted to go all out when they stepped forward with a plan to install exercise equipment for an adult fitness area and playground fixtures for tots at Ruth Varney Held Park, the grassy area north of the lifeguard station parking lot at the foot of Saratoga Avenue in Ocean Beach.

Under that first draft, which can still be viewed at obcdc.org, the website of the Ocean Beach Community Development Corporation (OBCDC), development would have swallowed up over half of the park’s 66,567 square footage, banishing the remaining untouched grass to a western strip adjacent to the beach.

For OBceans fond of using that grass to practice yoga, throw frisbees and kick soccer balls and hacky sacks, that plan didn’t cut it.

“We had grandiose plans for taking large areas of the park, but once we started having community meetings, we got pushback on that,” said Jane Gawronski, who presented a dramatically scaled-back update at the Nov. 7 monthly meeting of the Ocean Beach Planning Board.

Under the new layout, developed by LdG Landscape Architects, less than 20 percent of the area is designated for the adult fitness area, the children’s playground and flood control. The improvements are largely placed along the park’s eastern edge, and the rest remains in its current grassy state, with no other structures except six picnic tables.

“I like the way it opens up the space,” said Kevin Hastings, the board’s vice chair, just before the board voted 10-0 to put its full weight in support of the park’s latest rendering.

“The original plan seemed like a takeover, and I was a bit offended by it I guess,” he said.

Ocean Beach activist Geoff Page, a former chair of the Peninsula Community Planning Board, agreed. “I think this is a big improvement over what you folks had before. It looks much better,” he said.

The City-owned park, also known as Saratoga Park or, on google maps, “Ocean Beach Park,” is being developed with private funds, said Gawronski, who serves on both the OBPB and OBCDC boards. The OBCDC will take on construction and long-term maintenance responsibilities, she said.

The OBCDC has so far raised $10,000 of the estimated $200,000 for the project. The budget includes installation of some sort of artwork -- a feature strongly supported during community meetings, Gawronski said.

In other OBPB-related news:

- OB Green Center moving in with Jim Bell: The Ocean Beach Green Center, a fixture for nearly three decades, is moving across the street from its current location in the 4800 block of Voltaire Street to the Jim Bell building, said Coleen Dietzel, a Green Center co-founder who retired this month. Bell, an environmental engineer and frequent candidate for elected office, has been in declining health recently, placing the fate of his property – a one-time site of Hodad’s – in question. “We just can’t afford our rent, and we also thought it’s better to give Jim our money,” Dietzel said during the nonagenda portion of the meeting.

- Nothing but no-shows: Some may have been busy licking their wounds. Others, doing a victory lap. Whatever they were doing, not a single government aide could be found to represent their government official at the meeting, the first following this month’s midterm elections. The no-shows included lame ducks like Conrad Wear, aide to Lorie Zapf, who lost her re-election bid for the City Council District 2 seat to Dr. Jenn Campbell and subsequently declined to discuss her defeat to the Beacon; and Adrian Granda, aide to termed-out county Supervisor Ron Roberts.

Even reps for successful candidates played hooky, including aides to Congressman Scott Peters and state Assemblyman Todd Gloria. Rounding out the roster of nonattendees were Chevelle Newell-Tate from the office of state Sen. Toni Atkins and Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s Anthony George, both of whom represent officials who are in the middle of their current terms.

- New City Hall liaison: Ocean Beach has a new long-range planner from the City’s Planning Department, who introduced himself: Nathen Causman, who also works with the planning boards of City Heights, Normal Heights and  Kensington-Talmadge. Contact Causman at NCausman@sandiego.gov.

- What is to become of the G Building?: The 57-year-old structure adjacent to the Ocean Beach library known as the “G Building” is working out just fine as a “gigantic storage bin” for books, said Laura Dennison of Friends of the Ocean Beach library. The Friends have had sole use of the building at 4817 Santa Monica Ave. since the beginning of the year, Dennison said.

The property is planned for library expansion purposes but the ultimate fate of the building is unclear. It’s currently being evaluated for one of three outcomes: to be demolished, remodeled or left as-is, she said. The Friends want to go full court press for their upcoming annual sit-down with the District 2 City Council office, and want to team up with a member of the OBPB for support, Dennison said.

- The next OBPB meeting will be held Dec. 5 at 6 p.m. at the Ocean Beach Recreation Center, 4726 Santa Monica Ave.

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RobertCBurns
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November 23, 2018
Thank you O.B. Planning Board. As for the O.B. Library homeless camp, get your act together.
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