The redevelopment of Mast Park is moving forward, which explains the presence recently of a survey crew at the park and the arrival next week of a soils testing rig.
The park redo has been in the works for nearly five years. In 2012, landscape architects from Schmidt Design Group produced a new park master plan that included the public’s input from two workshops. The City Council also reviewed and approved the plan.
The resulting conceptual design called for extensive renovations: more parking spaces, a new restroom and playground, two additional picnic shelters, better drainage and walking paths.
The plan also recommends improving the popular off-leash dog park by creating separate areas for large and small dogs, building of a 1-mile loop path and new safety features such as security cameras.
Much of the park’s surface would be reshaped with a network of manufactured creek beds, bioswales and a retention pond to curb pollution from urban runoff. The dry creek beds would serve as play areas for children during dry weather but deter erosion during storm events.
Although the park’s boundary encompasses 136 acres on both sides of the San Diego River, nearly 75 percent must remain as undeveloped habitat preserve. Thus, the master plan focuses on the 26-acre developed portion north of the river and east of Carlton Hills Boulevard.
Using data from the recent survey work, the city will probably redesign the disc golf course to lessen the impact on other park users. Over the next year, environmental studies will be done to identify site constraints and lay the groundwork for a final construction design.
With additional input from local residents and the council, the conceptual plan will be honed into a final design in early 2017. Construction is expected to start in the fall of 2018, followed by completion in mid-2019. The city has budgeted $7.2 million for the project under its Capital Improvement Program. A $1.23 million grant from the San Diego River Conservancy will pay for improvements that benefit the environment.
Redoing a park is a methodical process, and rightly so, because the final product will have to meet the community’s needs for decades to come. The city wants to continue the tradition of excellence.
Mast Park’s original master plan, which created the park you see today, won an Orchid Award in 1985 from the San Diego Architectural Foundation. In 2011, the city won a Merit Award from the California Trails Conference Foundation for its construction of the half-mile-long Mast Park West Trail.
Mast Park is a special place treasured by many. It’s home to some of the largest stately oak and sycamore trees in the entire city, and it’s location along the banks of the San Diego River offers scenic beauty. The new design is intended to hit the sweet spot between preserving the park’s natural beauty while adding sculpted landscaping and new places for discovery within a familiar setting.