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Supervisors update capital needs assessment list

Joe Naiman

Village News Correspondent

The County of San Diego’s Capital Improvement Needs Assessment Program was updated April 14 during the San Diego County Board of Supervisors meeting.

The updated needs assessment includes land acquisition for the San Luis Rey River Park and the Multiple Species Conservation Program. It also lists currently-funded but uncompleted projects including the new Fallbrook branch library and projects completed during the current fiscal year such as Clemmens Lane Park.

The 2010-2015 needs assessment covers facilities projects slated for capital improvement between 2010 and 2015 but does not include funding for those projects. The supervisors’ vote, however, also referred the program to the county’s Chief Administrative Officer to determine timing and funding mechanisms to implement the individual projects.

The plan includes approximately $308.7 million in partially funded and unfunded priority projects along with currently funded and approved projects totaling approximately $915.3 million. Because the capital planning process which includes the Capital Improvement Needs Assessment Program focuses on facilities, road projects are not included on the capital improvements list. A Facilities Planning Board prioritizes projects based on criteria including benefits and linkage to the county’s strategic plan.

The partially funded and unfunded projects on the list consist of projects estimated to exceed $10 million, which were ranked by the Facilities Planning Board, and projects estimated to cost under $10 million, which were listed but not ranked. Additional projects which have been identified but require further analysis to define their scope will be brought to the Board of Supervisors for future inclusion on the Capital Improvement Needs Assessment Program list during a subsequent year.

The Fallbrook branch library was fully funded in March 2008. The county has allocated $10,336,000 for the Fallbrook library, which now has a target completion date of November 2010. In January 2009 the county supervisors authorized a construction contract for Clemmens Lane Park and provided funding to cover the estimated $675,000 cost. The park opened on December 10, 2009.

The partially funded and unfunded major projects include additional land acquisition for the Multiple Species Conservation Program. The MSCP land acquisition ranks third among the eight major (more than $10 million) projects, behind the Las Colinas Women’s Detention Facility and the Rancho San Diego Sheriff’s Station.

The county has already purchased more than 15,000 acres for the MSCP and anticipates the acquisition of up to an additional 15,000 acres. The estimated total cost to acquire the remaining amount is $117.8 million.

The future San Luis Rey River Park will include open space areas including trails, staging areas, and habitat preservation corridors. Since those open space areas are for the most part within the draft MSCP boundaries, the MSCP funding will be available to purchase open space land within the river park. The river park plans also include active recreation such as ball fields, play areas, and picnic facilities, although that land would not be eligible for MSCP funding.

“It remains a very high priority,” said Charley Marchesano, the division chief for park development at the county’s Department of Parks and Recreation.

The Capital Improvement Needs Assessment only addresses land acquisition for the river park. Since the boundaries of the river park are yet to be determined and land will be purchased only from willing sellers, no specific additional funding estimate is available. The San Luis Rey River Park will cover approximately 1,600 acres, and the linear park will stretch for approximately nine miles. In July 2005 the county appropriated $5 million for land acquisition for the river park, and the county’s 2006-07 budget provided an additional $3 million. More than 500 acres have already been purchased for the river park.

“We’re still seeking funding for that,” Marchesano said.

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