By Karen Billing
Staff WriterOne Rancho Santa Fe mom hopes to create a “Hundred Acre Wood”–style children’s playground on the Association-owned open space known as the Arroyo property. A “peaceful” plot of nature, the Arroyo is accessed down a long dirt road off Las Colinas after it turns into El Vuelo.
The proposed cedar wood play structure would have three towers with play elements, such as slides and climbing walls at a cost of $25,000. A community build has been suggested with the playground equipment manufacturer supplying supervision while local community members and groups put the structure together.
Mom Heather Slosar, who has been leading the drive for the playground, said she aims to complement, not replace the nature in the park.
“I’m not proposing bright green, red and yellow plastic structure. We’re looking at all wood construction, something that really goes nicely with the environment at Arroyo,” Slosar said. “A playground will enhance the feel of community and serve as an excellent meeting place.”
The RSF Association board is scheduled to make a decision on the play equipment at its Thursday, Nov. 3, board meeting at 9 a.m.
“I urge those in the community who would like to show support for a playground at Arroyo in the Covenant to please come to the board meeting on Nov. 3,” Slosar said.
Slosar is a mother of five children between the ages of 1 and 10. She said that at times as a mother it can feel isolating in the Ranch. Slosar said that with homes situated on large property lots and behind gates it’s not as easy as running next door to find friends and playdates, young moms would like having a place to go. The closest parks are San Dieguito Park and the playground at the Village Presbyterian Church, but Slosar said it would be nice for Rancho Santa Fe to have a park that was “just ours.”
Demographics of the community-wide survey show an increase in young families with 28 percent having children under age 10.
For the last five months she’s been working with the trails and recreation committee on design concepts. While the proposed play structure is outside the Covenant, it would be located on land owned by the Association so it is subject to its review process.
“I can name historically three attempts to get a park in the community, it’s been very difficult and no one’s ever gotten past trails and recreation, mainly because of zoning issues,” Slosar said.
The Arroyo is 88-acres of open space, purchased by the Association for $1.8 million in the late 1990s. The “beautiful,” and “under-utilized” property is located less than three miles from the village, has a lake, fire pit and porta potty, as well as a caretaker’s home.
“We could substantially enhance the land usage by adding a play structure,” Slosar said.
As it is outside the Covenant, it is county-zoned property and is not subject to the neighbor approval vote requirement the Association has for projects like this.
The item was only informational on the Oct. 20 agenda so the directors mostly listened — after the meeting they took a tour to check out the Village Church’s play equipment and then continued on to the Arroyo.
“You’ve made a very persuasive presentation,” said board president Jack Queen. “I’m not convinced.”
The board mainly wanted to know if they spent the money to build it, would people come?
Slosar said absolutely they would, particularly her Moms and Tots group at the RSF Community Center, the RSF Outdoors Club (one of the groups who has volunteered to build the playground) and she said she could see it being the perfect spot to host school class parties, as currently they head to San Dieguito park or someone’s home.
To help prove her point, Slosar invited several families out to the Arroyo property on June 22 and made a video of the moms’ endorsements of the site, some who admitted they never even knew it was there.
“This would be a dream destination place for kids and families,” said Rancho Santa Fe mom Linda Leong. “Most communities, with the exception of the Rancho Santa Fe Covenant, have a communal area for kids to play…We have nothing for the tots.”