City releases preliminary design for Trancas Park

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The preliminary design of Trancas Parks includes a two-acre, multi-sports field, picnic areas and a dog park.

The city is moving along with its plan for a West Malibu park with a sports field, dog park and picnic areas. A preliminary design for the park on the 13-acre piece of land located on the east side of Trancas Canyon Road was released this week. The Parks and Recreation Commission will review the proposal on Thursday.

If the process goes smoothly, Parks and Recreation Director Bob Stallings said the park could be open by the fall of 2008.

The preliminary design, which is a combination of two proposals endorsed by a group of citizens who attended a workshop at Malibu High School in August, includes a two-acre, multi-sports field with a natural grass surface. The field could be used for soccer, T-ball and softball. Stallings said it is too small for baseball. Although some community members, including Parks and Recreation Commission Chair Dermot Stoker, have called for artificial turf, Stallings said it would be too expensive.

“It’s a matter of $1.2 million for a synthetic surface versus $325,000 for natural grass,” Stallings said. “With our budget, natural grass is the better idea.”

It has not been determined whether the field would be used only for practice, or if it could be used for games as well.

Also proposed for the area is a one-acre dog park, something dog owners in Malibu have been advocating for many years. It would be located on the northwest end of the property. It would include a gated open space for dogs to be able to run freely as well as trees and small shaded picnic tables.

A playground and picnic area is proposed for the east side of the north end of the property. Two large shaded picnic areas would be built, containing four tables each. Unshaded picnic tables would be placed nearby.

Additionally, a so-called bio-redux restroom that requires no septic tanks, formally located at Las Flores Canyon Park, would be transferred to this area.

A 58-space parking lot is proposed for the area as well. An access road from Trancas Canyon Road also must be built.

The plan calls for native coastal oak trees throughout the property, as well as other native vegetation. Grading is proposed for portions of the site.

Thursday’s meeting will allow for the Parks and Recreation Commissioners to make comments on the proposal. Members of the public will also be allowed to speak. The comments will be forwarded to the Planning Commission, which could review the project before the end of the year.

Stalling said the environmental impact report for the park is being finalized, and a draft version of the report could be ready before the end of the year as well.

The project must receive a coastal development permit from the Planning Commission, and that could be appealed to the City Council and the California Coastal Commission.

Stallings said, following approvals, the project would go out for construction bids, with a selection being made possibly in April. Construction could begin in May, with a target for a fall completion.

The project is estimated to cost $3.1 million. The city has set aside $665,000 to build the park. City staff is looking into how to fund the rest of the project.

The Trancas property previously was home to a multi-sports park, built nearly 40 years ago in memory of Sgt. Alfred A. Kaspaul who died in the Vietnam War. He was the son of a longtime West Malibu couple. But as the demographics of the city changed in the ’70s, with the city’s young population mostly disappearing, the park began to decay due to disuse. Various owners considered it for development, but it was determined that building there would be difficult. The property was donated to the city in 2003.

This Trancas property is not part of the nearby 35-acre site owned by Trancas PCH that has been the subject of various lawsuits and attempts at ball field development.

Thursday’s meeting takes place in the City Council Chambers at City Hall. It begins at 6:30 p.m.