An expansion of Nipomo Community Park can move forward after a recent court ruling put an end to years of legal wrangling, though San Luis Obispo County planners say it will still take decades for the full vision of the park to be realized.
“We felt that Nipomo was underserved in parks,” county parks planner Elizabeth Kavanaugh said. “It feels good to know that moving forward into the future, they’ll have a nice park to recreate in, since that was the goal. It’s a good feeling to have this finally happening.”
The county Board of Supervisors approved a master plan in December 2012 that envisions a substantial expansion of recreational facilities at the 137-acre Nipomo Community Park, adding amphitheaters, horseshoe pits, playgrounds, a community center, a skate park, a pool, and basketball, tennis and handball courts.
The plan also adds about 440,000 square feet of additional sports fields, 138,000 square feet of multiuse trails and walkways, and expands the Nipomo Regional Library — situated next to the park — by about 4,000 square feet.
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The park currently provides day-use areas, four softball diamonds, a football and soccer field, four tennis courts, horseshoe pits, sand volleyball, an off-leash dog area and a children’s play area, according to its website.
Soon after the master plan was approved, the Nipomo Parks Conservancy, a nonprofit advocacy group, filed a lawsuit in San Luis Obispo Superior Court, claiming the plan was “flawed” and that the expansion was an unreasonable use of limited water resources.
The group contended that the environmental impact report for the master plan didn’t take into account available water resources and failed to identify future sources of water. The county in turn argued that the Nipomo Community Services District, which serves the area, does have an adequate supply of water for the proposed facilities, even in light of the statewide drought. The county argued that special measures would be put in place to ensure the park does not increase its water usage beyond what it has historically used.
In June, Judge Barry LaBarbera ruled against the lawsuit, saying there was no evidence to indicate the park expansion would threaten the area’s water resources.
“The determinations reached by this court result in the conclusion that the park expansion does not, and cannot, require additional water,” he wrote. “In this regard, the court concludes that the plan does not violate the constitutionally mandated reasonable use of water, does not have an impact on coastal resources, and is consistent with General Plan elements concerning water resources.”
Representatives of the Nipomo Parks Conservancy could not be reached for comment on whether they plan to appeal the decision.
It’s a good feeling to have this finally happening.
Elizabeth Kavanaugh, San Luis Obispo County parks planner
Jocelyn Brennan, legislative assistant to District 4 Supervisor Lynn Compton, said Thursday that no appeal had been filed, and the county doesn’t expect that one will.
As far as the park’s next steps, Kavanaugh said it would take upwards of 25 years to complete all of the proposed improvements, though it could take longer depending on when and what funding is secured.
There has been a lot of interest in building the community center, she said, as well as the skate park, so those likely could be the first projects built.
She said funding for any of the projects will have to come from either state or private grants or through community partnerships, as was the case with the recently dedicated Paul Teixeira Rotary Bandstand in the middle of the park.
The bandstand was the effort of the Nipomo Rotary Club, to honor late county Supervisor Paul Teixeira. It was completed in June.
“That’s the kind of partnership we are looking for in the future,” Kavanaugh said. “They did a great job. That’s a great addition to the park.”