A group of young boys were so determined to be on time for the grand opening of Clemmens Lane Park the afternoon of December 10, they took their soccer balls to school with them that day. They planned to be the first ones to inaugurate the soccer field at the new $800,000 facility.
The boys sat together patiently as San Diego County Supervisor Bill Horn, Parks and Recreation Director Brian Albright, and Service Area 81 member Ricardo Favela each took the podium and spoke of the dream, planning, and resulting construction of the park that evolved over a five year period.
In a time when new park openings are few and far between, Horn said the building of the new park at 344 W. Clemmens Lane was merely the community’s “fair share” [of county revenues].
“It seems like the City of San Diego and areas in the south part of the county get the lion’s share [of money]; this is just our fair share,” emphasized Horn, who many feel has diligently championed Fallbrook’s needs over his tenure.
“Supervisor Horn has been very supportive of this project,” said Albright. “This has been a dream for the community for over five years.”
The three-level park, which sits on a .57-acre parcel of land, boasts a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains. With a well-designed layout, room was made for both junior and tot lot playgrounds, a picnic plaza with a covered pavilion and barbecues, a soccer field, and a sand volleyball court. Enclosed by security fencing and illuminated well, the grounds are completely landscaped.
“I was surprised how much they fit in this small facility,” said Horn.
Native Fallbrookian Patty Chavarria and two of her three sons, Raymond, 3, and Jose, 10, attended the grand opening and admired all the features of the park. With Raymond carefully climbing up a colorful play structure, Chavarria reflected on what a benefit the park will be to her.
“[The boys] have been so excited to have the park open,” said Chavarria. “I think it’s really nice to have a park that I can walk the boys to so that they can play.”
The dream of a Clemmens Lane park began to take serious shape in 2005 when members of the community requested a new park along with a list of amenities they would like to see included. One of those was Ricardo Favela. “I was seeing the problem at a mobile home park nearby that I was managing,” said Favela. “Kids wanted to play outside but there was no room for them to do that without annoying neighbors. Fortunately, we had a lot of good people helped us and believed in the project.”
The San Diego County Board of Supervisors approved the purchase of the land for the park in April 2007 and design work began.
“The design team spoke with a lot of area residents to gather ideas and understand needs,” said Albright. “Fortunately, they were able to get all the desired items in.”
Funds for the $800,000 project came from federal grants and Park Land Development Ordinance Funds (PLDO), which are locally-collected developer fees.
“Not a dollar of County general funds went into this park,” said Albright.
Chavarria said she does have one concern. “I think we need speed bumps on Clemmens Lane now. I am worried because people do drive fast on this street.” Chavarria’s point was made at the event when an errant soccer ball rolled across the street and youngsters were anxious to retrieve it.
Sheriff’s Lt. Phil Brust, who is in charge of the Fallbrook command area, said he agreed the park is a positive improvement. “It’s a start; it’s a place for kids to go and burn off energy.” He also added his pleasure at seeing the children so happy.
“These kids are all having fun, smiling; this is what keeps kids away from the criminal element,” said Brust.
Brust said he hopes community involvement will remain strong to help keep the criminal element away from the park, in addition to the effort his deputies will put forth.
“It’s a gem for the community and we want to keep it that way,” he added.
Various groups discussed the subject of the park’s maintenance at the event, and longtime community volunteer Jean Dooley suggested Favela may want to organize a committee to create a plan.
“We understand this park needs to be taken care of,” said Favela in his address to the crowd. And it looks as though he will have the support needed.
“I am one of the people that want to make sure this park is kept nice, because it’s in my neighborhood” said Chavarria.
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