Editorials

Fix what’s broken at county parks — and don’t drop the ball on Nipomo

Nipomo skaters build makeshift ramps at the old recreation center — now just a slab of foundation after a fire destroyed the building in 2008.
Nipomo skaters build makeshift ramps at the old recreation center — now just a slab of foundation after a fire destroyed the building in 2008.

As much as we support ambitious recreation projects like the Bob Jones Trail and the Pismo Preserve, kids can’t play soccer or shoot hoops on a hiking trail.

For that, they need soccer fields and basketball courts and playgrounds within a reasonable distance from their homes, and it shouldn’t take six or seven years and hundreds of thousands of dollars to provide them.

Yet Nipomo residents say that’s what’s happening in their community, and they’re tired of waiting.

Some are threatening to sue the county; they believe they’ve been cheated out of park facility fees collected in their community over the past couple of decades—fees that are intended to help communities deal with the consequences of growth.

There is, as you might suspect, another side to the story: For one thing, a master plan for Nipomo Community Park was the subject of a drawn-out lawsuit that put the park project on hold.

Also, to be clear, County Parks hasn’t ignored Nipomo; since 2006 it’s spent nearly $4 million on recreation projects there. The biggest chunk, $2.6 million, was spent to acquire land at the Dana Adobe.

But Nipomo still lacks tangible facilities—places where kids can play ball and skate — though the county is in the process of replacing playground equipment at Nipomo Community Park. Also, at the insistence of South County Supervisor Lynn Compton, $150,000 has been allocated to draw up plans for a skate park.

Other items on Nipomo’s wish list range from a multi-million dollar recreation center to a $300,000 emergency water line for the Dana Adobe Visitor’s Center. (The visitors center is almost complete but can’t open until the water line is installed. That’s a no-brainer. Allocate the money, please.)

It will take many more years and millions of dollars to get everything done.

For now, we urge county officials and the community to get on the same page and select some smaller projects.

For instance, how much would it cost to build a couple of basketball courts?

And please, explore the idea of fully utilitizing the fields, gyms and other rec facilities at all Nipomo area schools—not just the high school. It’s a huge waste of taxpayer money to see ball fields and tennis courts sitting empty. And it’s a bigger shame to lock kids—and adults—out of facilities that could be put to good use after school, during the summer and on weekends.

As for other unincorporated communities, we urge the county to allocate resources to take care of existing properties and projects before tackling new ones.

A couple of examples:

▪ In Cayucos, the 1st Street staircase leading down to the beach has been closed for five years—five years!—but the rickety stairs are still being used. That’s a lawsuit waiting to happen.

▪ Near Avila Beach, the Cave Landing parking area above Pirate’s Cove is a rutted, trash-strewn mess. Unfortunately, major improvements proposed for that area were scrapped when the Coastal Commission turned down the plan. That’s no excuse to abandon Cave Landing. At the very least, install some trash cans and level the parking lot.

At a recent meeting, the County Parks Commission recommended putting both the Cayucos stairs and Cave Landing on the list of “active” projects. Good move. It doesn’t necessarily mean the projects will receive county funds, but it does mean the Parks Department staff will seek grants for the project.

We strongly urge the Board of Supervisors to adopt the Parks Commission’s recommendations on Cave Landing and Cayucos; fund the water line at the Dana Adobe; and most of all, don’t drop the ball on Nipomo.

Funding for Nipomo Recreation Projects

2006-2016 Projects

Paul Teixera Gazebo

$ 57,000

Dana Adobe

$2,638,404

Jack Ready Park

$ 459,361

Nipomo Park Master Plan

$ 190,329

Current Projects

Nipomo Park Playground Replacement

$ 370,000

Nipomo Skate Park

$ 150,000

Nipomo Area Parks Plan

$ 50,000

Total

$3,915,094

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