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EDHCSD’s future parks: New GM encouraged to think big

By From page A1 | May 30, 2012

In preparation for his departure on June 6, and perhaps as a 50th anniversary present, interim El Dorado Hills Community Services District General Manager Rich Ramirez recently published a 28 page treatise titled “A Potential Road Map for Next General Manager of the El Dorado Hills Community Services District,” an assessment of the district’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

It addresses a comprehensive range of opportunities and challenges for the district and it’s next GM, including a brief mention of potential sites for future parks that might address long-standing shortages of practice fields for youth and adult sports.

Ramirez also presents a vision of grander recreation facilities that could one day define the community in much the same way that the Executive Golf Course once did.

The immediate demand is for practice fields, according to Ramirez. Similar communities have “open play/practice” fields that can be used without a reservation system, and are typically part of a larger regional park or a major sports complex. The district is a strong candidate for such a complex, he continued, which might contain tournament caliber tennis courts, soccer fields, basketball courts and ball fields.

The cost of a regional park is likely beyond what El Dorado Hills could muster on it’s own, Ramirez writes, and he suggests a joint powers authority as a potential vehicle to fund the project.

In his analysis Ramirez states, “Obviously such an ambitious undertaking would need not only the support of a fully engaged community and the owners of any potential park sites, but that of surrounding jurisdictions who might participate in the cost of the facility and its upkeep.”

District 1 Supervisor John Knight recently offered to take the lead in stimulating conversation on the matter, which has initially revolved around the dormant Bass Lake Regional Park site.

Ramirez also encourages his successor not to be constrained by the current master plan, which “should be a guide, not a limitation” to meeting the needs of the community.

“A preliminary design will allow you to solicit private sponsorships, or else you try to find a guy like William Land to donate it,” he said. “But before that, you need to decide what you want.”

Ramirez suggests that a community the size and stature of El Dorado Hills with an established CSD is an ideal place for a large, formal community center, “something between 45,000 and 85,000 square feet, with a commercial kitchen, meeting and activity rooms … something that can seat a couple thousand people.”

A sports complex is another possibility. “Generally you would start with eight sports fields, typically dedicated to either soccer or baseball,” he writes. “It’s huge endeavor that takes lots of infrastructure, including parking and lights, but it can really drive economic development.”

A handful of obvious candidate sites include:

Bass Lake
A proposed regional park site, possibly shared with a school, east and north of Bass Lake has faced local opposition in the past, and is constrained by the two-lane Bass Lake Road. The proximity to Bass Lake, which is currently owned by EID, also creates environmental issues on the site.

Ramirez said early discussions have centered around low impact uses rather than the large, developed regional park that was originally envisioned.

Carson Creek
The Carson Creek specific plan, 710 acres south of Four Seasons and west of the El Dorado Hill Business Park, calls for up to 1,700 homes, 460 of which have been built as the Four Seasons active adult community on White Rock Road, and 1.3 million square feet of R&D and industrial uses.

The plan also includes a 30-acre regional park at the southern tip of the area, intended to “meet the needs of western El Dorado County,” including multiple ball fields and lights. The park site is southwest of the business park, with access through Investment Boulevard.

Valley View
The 52-acre Valley View Community Park has been proposed in the Blackstone development off Latrobe Road. Preliminary plans call for tennis courts, pools and basketball, but no athletic fields or lights.

Serrano Village “J”
The unimaginatively named Village J Park, 12.5 acres north of Serrano Parkway and west of Bass Lake Road, will have two soccer fields and lots of grass but no lights.

Golf course
Ramirez suggested the former Executive Golf Course site as another potential location for either a regional park or a smaller-but-still-grand CSD community park. The area adjacent to the freeway is a logical site for athletic fields with lights.

Parker Development owns the property. No formal plans for the site have been announced. Stay tuned.

Marble Valley
Parker Development also owns Marble Valley, the historic 2,341 acres off Bass Lake Road, south of Highway 50. Long standing county approved plans call for 398 luxury homes in the four-mile long valley, with a regional arts center at the entrance. Again, no formal plans have been announced.

The one thing
Ramirez suggests that his successor obey “Curly’s Law” from the 1991 film “City Slickers,” in which an aging Jack Palance, as the cantankerous cowboy Curly, tells Billy Crystal that he must discover “the one thing.”

He warns his successor to make sure the community has spoken, and ensure that the political will exists for any project, then act as a moderator of the discussion, rather than advocate of any specific project plan.

Mike Roberts

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