Carmel Valley Recreation & Park District Celebrates 30th Anniversary
30 years ago this month the Carmel Valley Recreation & Park District, an independent special district of Monterey County, was formed to manage the new Carmel Valley, Community Park. Initially, the park compromised just 1.1 acre which was a rectangular parcel in between Tularcitos Elementary school and the Community Youth Center. The parcel was originally obtained through a federal, state and local park funding program with the Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District holding title to the property.
The district was formed in August 1985, when over two-thirds of the voters approved a benefit assessment of $24 per developed, residential parcel. Vacant properties paid half that amount and commercial properties on a sliding scale a slightly higher amount. Early funding provided support for maintaining the park as well as funding to help maintain the Carmel Valley Community Youth Center, which was founded in 1951.
The boundaries of the district were identical to the boundary of the original Carmel Valley Fire Protection District, which went from Sleepy Hollow on the east to Miramonte Road on the west, and from ridgeline to ridgeline, north to south. The area encompasses a population of over 6,000, in and around Carmel Valley Village. There are about 2,200 total parcels within the district.
The park was expanded in 1990 by the addition of an approximately five-acre parcel which comprises the large lawn area of the park which has a gazebo and BBQ area. In 2000 Carmel Valley Village Improvement Committee [CVVIC] purchased the property to the east of the Park, and after a few years of fundraising efforts, was able to complete the purchase of this property and transfer it to the Park District for community-wide benefit. Much needed parking was made available for park patrons. Another restroom building was constructed to better serve park users. An 80 x 60-foot portion of the park was leased to the CV Historical Society for them to build a museum to house the many artifacts that have been donated to the society over the years. The museum currently has numerous displays which show the history of Carmel Valley
The original limited assessment of $24 parcel has not changed throughout the district’s 30 years. The CVRPD board of directors is currently considering going to the voters to ask for an increase in the benefit assessment amount. Over 30 years, inflation has gone up 221%. All the costs to maintain the park and keep restrooms clean have increased too, yet the district is still having to operate with the same level of income from 30 years ago.
With over $50,000 in donations from the community, the District recently completed a well tank project that has enabled the park to keep the grass green. Because of the drought and issues with the original well last year the grass turned from green to brown. Adding 20,000 gallons of water storage with a separate booster pump, the system is able to properly irrigate all areas of the lawn to keep them green. This was especially appreciated during the recent annual Kiwanis Fiesta when thousands of people came out to enjoy good music, food, craft booths, games, antique car show, and Carmel Valley’s beautiful weather.
The park is regularly used by many dog walkers who love to exercise their pets on the green grass. The community park is becoming the community lawn, as many homeowners convert their lawns at home to other uses to conserve water through the drought. The district is also looking to convert certain areas of lawn into drought-tolerant plants so as to minimize the amount of water and power needed to keep the park green.
The district is pursuing plans for a drainage project to address water runoff that flows from Tularcitos Elementary school, floods the park and threatens neighboring properties.
The board has started work on a Master Plan to consider improvements to the Flagpole area and creating a designated handicapped picnic area. Other ideas are possibly adding a bocce ball court, a memory garden and other improvements that will make the park all the more user friendly, while still preserving its rural atmosphere. CVRPD, in partnership with CVVIC and Carmel Valley Community Youth Center [CVCYC], recently added recycling bins in the park, pool and throughout the Village to further promote stewardship and minimize waste going to the landfill.
The district is exploring the possible purchase of the former C. V. Airport, a 29.73 acre, open space parcel. The property could be used community gardens, to ensure Santa’s annual arrival by helicopter and to be used as an emergency staging area. In July 2008, 1500 firefighters were bivouacked their fighting the Basin Fire. Last September Monterey County Sheriff’s Search & Rescue Team used it to look for a lost hiker in the Ventana Wilderness.
With no paid clerical staff, CVRPD relies on the volunteer efforts of the Board of Directors to manage the finances and fulfill the governmental requirements a small special district must perform. They look forward to the continued support of constituents as the district moves into the future.