Waterfront Park opened in 2014 and quickly became of the most treasured open spaces in San Diego. The 12-acre park has served a wide range of demographics providing a variety of recreational experiences from the large civic splash fountain, children’s play, active recreation and event lawns, and contemplative gardens. The project has won more than a dozen awards of recognition including an Orchid in 2014. The O&O jury’s comments included selecting the project “for recognizing that a lush park-scape is a far superior welcome to our city than a parking lot.” One of the important features of the original design was a contemplative garden in the northeast corner of the park that now includes a beautiful Niki de Saint Phalle sculpture. Unfortunately, Ron Roberts who spearheaded Waterfront Park is no longer at the Board of Supervisor to protect the treasured park design originally created by Hargreaves Associates with the Landscape Architect of record Schmidt Design Group. After so much success and millions of happy visitors, in 2020 the Board of Supervisors decided they didn’t like that there is a beautiful, peaceful, contemplative garden at Waterfront Park that is not packed with people. They instructed staff to redesign the 1.5-acre gardens at the Northwest corner of the park to add active recreation. Construction is expected to start soon on this unfortunate modification to the park.
The new design guts the gardens that currently display dozens of colorful varieties of drought tolerant plants. It replaces the gardens with a dog park, 2 pickleball courts, a basketball court, a T-ball field (very odd), and fitness equipment. The design pays little, if any, attention to the original design intent including dropping a full-size basketball Court that interrupts one of the East/West axis walkways. Certainly adding active recreation will serve certain visitors, but our community will lose an important contemplative open space that was created specifically as a respite from our increasingly urban city. This will be an unfortunate loss for San Diego, and worthy of an Onion.
The corner of Pacific Highway and Grape Street
County of San Diego