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By Eric Heinz

Citing issues with the current Beaches, Parks and Recreation (BPR) master plan that was presented to the presiding commission in October, commissioners are looking to go through the plan line by line to enact specific goals for facilities around San Clemente.

The discrepancy of the BPR master plan is that it was constructed more like a consensus study, which relies on the responses of the public rather than assessing certain maintenance schedules and needs as well as possible projects in the future.

Almost every local municipality uses consensus studies to gauge the demand of its residents, but they’re typically not codified like master plans and don’t hold as much weight when it comes to policymaking.
As the BPR commission wants to prioritize its facility needs before the budget process begins at the end of winter, BPR Director Samantha Thomas said the commission needs to present something of substance to City Council before that time.

Commissioners have other concerns regarding the standards that were used for the surveys that included nationwide activities such as freshwater fishing, whitewater rafting and activities that aren’t very popular or not possible to do in San Clemente.

During the meeting, the BPR Commission prioritized looking at additional spaces for skateboard parks and including additional lighting, emphasizing those activities have a demand and that the city should provide more spaces for it.

Commissioners also mentioned the city’s ordinances that prohibit skateboarding in certain areas.

After hearing community members’ complaints regarding crumb rubber or tire rubber pellets on sports turf fields, the BPR Commission moved all the fields at Vista Hermosa Sports Park to its short list of priorities. Residents said during the meeting that the rubber pellets are carcinogenic and unsafe for use.

The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has initiated a study on the safety of synthetic turf fields that use crumb rubber, which is expected to be completed in mid-2019.

The fields were already on the BPR plans to be replaced, but not necessarily with different materials. Pellets that are coconut-based were used in the construction of Jim Johnson Memorial Sports Park, which opened earlier this year.

The next BPR Commission meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 12 at City Hall, 100 Avenida Presidio. Commissioners said they anticipate a longer meeting than usual. 

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