Planning for MacArthur Park underway

Posted: August 25th, 2017 | Featured, News | 4 Comments

By Jeff Clemetson | Editor

At the La Mesa Community Services Commission meeting on Aug. 9, the city laid out its initial plans for the old Sun Valley Golf Course in MacArthur Park — and residents got a chance to give their input on those plans as well.

Community Services Director Sue Richardson said that since the city took over the golf course in July, it has worked on the following improvements to get it ready to reopen to the public: filling in trip hazards, cleaning up debris, tree maintenance, repairing irrigation systems, shrub removal and fence line clearing — also known as crime prevention through environmental design (CPTEC).

Mark and Lorraine Kelley, and Dave Parks add their comments on the short-term concept for the golf course area at MacArthur Park at a meeting of the Community Services Commission on Aug. 9. (Photo by Jeff Clemetson)

The CPTEC work involved enhancing line of sight so there are no bushes to hide in, making the park easier to patrol. The northern end of the golf course by the freeway was completely overgrown and vagrancy existed there. Brush by the pool was cleared as well.

“Now, if you’re a lifeguard, you can see into the park,” Richardson said. “Our number one goal was to make it a safe place and to deter any unwanted activities going on in the park. If you live around the park, we hope that you can be kind of a park watch, neighborhood watch person and keep an eye on the park as well. We want you to be able to look into the park and notify the police or notify us with anything that is going on.”

Once the golf course area is deemed safe, it will open to the public and the city will start on some short-term plans for the area. Richardson pointed out that long-term plans, like rebuilding the aging aquatics center or constructing a new teen center, would not be discussed at the meeting.

“Short term is we have this piece of property that we want to open as soon as we can for public use,” she said. “We don’t want to do a lot of permanent infrastructure because the master plan process is where we’re going to say ‘What, as a community, do we need to put in this park for the long term?’”

Richardson then presented a map of the golf course with the ideas the city had been working on and what improvements might be done right away.

First, the city would like to add more access points to the park. A main entrance would be added by the baseball field. There is already a parking lot at that location and it would be easy to add more handicapped parking spaces, Richardson said. Another access point is planned for the north side of the aquatics center.

One planned access point, across from the “tot lot,” had a few residents pointing out that the crosswalk for that spot would be on a blind corner and unsafe. A final access point discussed for Pine Street will probably not be built, Richardson said, because neighbors felt it would cause too many cars to come park on their street.

After the new entrances are put in, a trail will be built that loops around the entire golf course with small picnic areas at various locations. Funding is already in place to build the access points, trail and picnic areas, Richardson said.

Also planned, though it does not have funding yet, is an off-leash dog park behind the aquatic center.

“It is located up by the pool for a couple of reasons,” Richardson said. “One is that we were looking to have it as far away from homes as possible so we weren’t bothering [neighbors].”

The park before the city cut back bushes and trees to improve visibility (Courtesy City of La Mesa)

The other reason is convenience — the area is already flat and next to parking.

Another short-term park improvement that will need some financial sponsors to build is a community garden by the new entrance near the ballpark.

Richardson said the city wants to model it after the College Area Community Garden and require a similar partnership, where the partner organization is the one that operates it, she said.

The last suggested short-term improvement for the park is a free, recreational, nine-hole disc golf course at the bottom of the canyon. A buffer zone — between the loop trail and the disc golf course — would be established to minimize any noise made by the disc golfers.

The finished work showing improved sight lines (Courtesy City of La Mesa)

“Again, we will need a partnership because we don’t have any golf baskets,” Richardson said.

Public comments on the disc golf course showed only “lukewarm” excitement for it, Richardson said, so it will be at the bottom of the priority list.

The city has also started accepting request for proposals (RFPs) from businesses interested in opening something in the space where the old golf clubhouse, driving range and putting green were located. This would involve a lease agreement to rent the property and the money would help offset costs to maintain the park.

After the presentation, Richardson said that the plans are still subject to change, depending on what the community thinks of them.

“The overall map is a concept that was created with the intention of getting feedback from the community. In particular, the entrance on Pine Street was not something that the neighborhood supported, so we will not install it,” she said.

For organizations interested in partnering with the city on the proposed dog park, community garden or disc golf course, contact Sue Richardson at To put in for an RFP, visit

—Reach Jeff Clemetson at


  1. Scott Kidwell says:

    I heard some on the city council were also considering the area for community run free range community poultry farming.

  2. Ted Donovan says:

    As a part of the La Mesa National Little League which plays at the historical gem Khulken Field, we need permanent bathrooms between the field and the park entrance area. The baseball fields are used year around between little league and seniors softball so I am not sure how the city justifies not having bathrooms at this facility, especially for the handicap.

  3. Susie Murphy says:

    Would love to see some real bike park or bike playground type amenities here. Pump tracks for various levels including tot track for balance bikes, balance features, jump lines, natural surface trails around the perimeter. Bike racks, tool station. It would be of great benefit for all family members and all ages to participate in an active healthy activity together.

  4. […] at a Community Services Commission meeting in August [“Planning for MacArthur Park underway,”]. Residents weighted in on what they’d like the park to include such as a community garden, dog […]

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