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Rancho Monserate residents concerned about impacts from planned park

Some Rancho Monserate Country Club residents are worried about the effect a proposed park will have on traffic in their community.

Members of the senior community’s homeowners organization have expressed concerns that the proposed Rio Prado Park, which will only be accessible via a road that cuts through their neighborhood, will create dangerous situations for seniors who need to cross that road to access amenities on the other side.

San Diego County officials have planned to develop San Luis Rey River Park along an eight-

and-a-half mile stretch of the river from Oceanside to Interstate 15 since 2005. Rio Prado Park – proposed to go in on the south side of the San Luis Rey River along Dulin Road, just west of the Rancho Monserate Country Club – is part of that River Park plan.

Two proposals for the park, an “active” plan that would include multiple sports fields and a “passive” one that wouldn’t include some basketball and tennis courts but no sports fields, were brought before the Fallbrook Community Planning Group back in December; the group’s recommendation erred on the passive side, recommending just one baseball and one soccer field.

But some residents are now saying that even that recommendation poses a problem for them.

“We do not oppose the park,” Rancho Monserate Homeowners Association president Carol Raia told Village News. “We are very concerned about ball fields being put down there because of the added traffic that’s gonna come through our community and disrupt the safety of our residents.”

The problem, Raia said, is that Dulin Road is the only route to access Rio Prado Park, and many residents of Rancho Monserate cross it regularly to access the community’s golf course, pool and clubhouse. Dulin Road is a publicly maintained road, but Rancho Monserate is a private community.

“You can’t get to Rio Prado unless you’re in a car, and our biggest concern is the average age of our residents is 70 to 80 years old,” Raia said. “These people get around in golf carts, and all of our amenities are on the north side of Dulin Road and the majority of residents live on the south side of Dulin Road, so they use golf carts to get around. There’s gonna be an accident and someone’s gonna be hurt or killed, and we’re trying to prevent that.”

Jessica Geiszler, marketing and public outreach manager for the county department of parks and recreation, confirmed that Dulin Road would be the only publicly accessible route to Rio Prado Park, though a private road through the nearby future community of Ocean Breeze will allow emergency access.

Raia said she’s not the only one worried. The association board and many residents are opposed to building sports fields in Rio Prado Park as well, she said.

Board member Dave Murdock echoed Raia’s concerns.

“Once a game is over, all of these people are gonna be leaving at the same time,” he said. “You could have 60-70 cars waiting to exit on a stop sign at (Old Highway) 395 at the same time – well, that traffic is gonna back up.”

Rancho Monserate resident Richard Snyder said it’s not just inconvenient but dangerous to have a road that cuts through a senior community as the only access to a sports park.

“We’re very concerned if there are team ballparks, because we’re going to have a lot of soccer moms driving through our neighborhood, and that’s going to cause real problems for the elderly people that try to get across the road,” Snyder said.

Raia said the vast majority of Rancho Monserate residents voted against having ball fields in Rio Prado Park in a survey put out by the county to residents of surrounding communities.

Geiszler, the county parks and recreation representative, said while results of the latest online survey, which was posted after a community meeting in October, are not available, “preliminary results show a desire for multi-use trails, a community center, a community garden, an equestrian staging area, a dog park, sports fields, picnic areas and a disc golf course.”

At any rate, the final concept plan for Rio Prado Park is not yet finished, Geiszler said, and it has not yet been determined how many ball fields will be included in the park. Once a concept plan is drafted, it will have to be approved by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors.

Will Fritz can be reached by email at [email protected].


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