The checklist to bring a new entertainment option in San Clemente to life received its first mark on Tuesday night, Feb. 14, with a unanimous vote from the Beaches, Parks & Recreation Commission.
Apart from one recusal by Commissioner Rob Feuerstein, the commission determined that it would be appropriate to construct a 36-hole mini golf facility at a 1.18-acre parcel of undeveloped land at the Vista Hermosa Sports Park. Per the vote, staff will also enter in exclusive negotiations with Salty Turf, LLC, which proposed the concept.
“I think this would feed right into, I’d like to say, more passive entertainment than some of the other things that we do to amuse ourselves and entertain ourselves,” Commissioner Susan Ambrose said of the project that would also include clubhouse and concession areas.
Salty Turf comprises San Clemente residents Jeff Moore, Andrew Streett, and Marcus Vanneman. The three were present for the proposal’s discussion Tuesday, with Streett leading the charge on behalf of the group.
Streett spoke to how the men have been active in the community as fathers and coaches of numerous youth sports teams and activities, and how they’ve seen the park develop around the untouched plot.
“We really want to be a part of that next stage of where (the park) gets developed,” he said. “For us, it’s a gem inside of San Clemente. We really enjoy the park, and we want to make it that much better.”
Moore added that the group has been working for over a year on developing a plan for the courses, of which there’d be 18 holes each on the east and west side, as well as securing funding.
Vanneman said they aim to create a concept in step with the rest of San Clemente.
Those details include an Ole Hanson-style concession building and holes that reflect local landmarks, according to Streett.
“We’re looking at all the flora and fauna, all the plants, to be something local and something that we can look at for drought resistance,” Streett said.
He also pointed out that the facility would be the only one within 30 minutes of town, providing something unique to San Clemente.
Beaches, Parks & Recreation Department Director Samantha Wylie addressed questions about parking.
“(Vista Hermosa), as a park, was designed to accommodate all of the anticipated future uses and development of that park site,” she said. “The parking you’re seeing now is actually more than enough parking for what’s currently there.”
Events such as soccer tournaments and the Carnival Colossal, especially in the case of the latter, would be seen as special circumstances where entities outside of the mini golf facility would be responsible for getting people in and out of the park, Wylie added.
She reminded the commission that concerns about traffic and parking would all be addressed by the Design Review Subcommittee, the Planning Commission, and eventually the City Council.
Commissioner Errol Foremaster told the Salty Turf group that although he appreciated their enthusiasm and that the facility was a great idea, he was concerned about the venture’s overall success.
He mentioned that the courses would be somewhat tucked into the park space, making it harder to view and for people to know about, and that the group might need to add additional amenities to make a profit.
“I’m just concerned about you guys really doing your financial analysis and being sure that this is going to work for you,” Foremaster said. “I’d hate to see the city get in bed with you and you guys build this all out, and it doesn’t last for you. Then, all of a sudden, we’ve got the old miniature golf course sitting there that we have to figure out what we’re going to do with.”
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