Construction to begin soon on long-anticipated Dos Vientos Playfield

More than 20 years after it was first discussed, a long-awaited playfield is going to be built in Dos Vientos.

Source of this article: The Thousand Oaks Acorn, October 27, 2011

Earlier this month, the board of directors of Conejo Recreation and Park District approved a $4-million bid to construct the Dos Vientos Playfield on a 26-acre parcel south of Via Rio and east of Calle de Prado.

MUCH TO OFFER—Plans for the Dos Vientos Playfield Project, also known as “Park Site ‘B,’” include several amenities, such as three lighted softball diamonds, a basketball court and the district’s first pickleball courts. Courtesy of Conejo Recreation and Park District

The news comes 21 years after a developer in 1990 agreed to build the park facility and three others as a condition of the approval of the master-planned community of Dos Vientos Ranch. The playfield is the last to be constructed.

“These people moved in anticipating the park when their kids were 10 years old. . . . Now some (of the kids) are headed for college,” said park board member Ed Jones. “They’ve been waiting a long time for this playfield.”

Among the amenities planned for the new park are three lighted softball fields, a playground and tot lot, a lighted tennis court, a basketball court, two lighted pickleball courts and parking for more than 125 vehicles. There will also be a walking path around the perimeter, and a restroom and maintenance building.

While walking the streets of Dos Vientos during his 2010 campaign for the park board, Jones said, he heard a common question from homeowners.

“‘When are we going to get the playfield?’” said Jones, adding that it won’t just be Dos Vientos residents who will benefit from the new facility.

“It’s going to be widely used in Newbury Park because Borchard Park (at the corner of Borchard and Reino roads) is overcrowded right now, so this will also alleviate that situation.”

In 2009, the Thousand Oaks Planning Commission approved entitlements for the playfield, which was designed with park district help and was supposed to have amenities similar to Newbury Park’s Peppertree Playfield, said Tom Hare, the administrator of CRPD’s planning division.

But in the months that followed, Standard Pacific Homes, which inherited the obligation made by the original Dos Vientos developer, failed to move forward.

“Unfortunately the real estate market went bad . . . and (Standard Pacific) started to cut their operations in the area and move guys around,” Hare said. “We were having a hard time connecting with (the developer).”

After waiting more than a year for an answer, Hare said, the park district was approached by the developer in January with a buyout agreement. In it, Standard Pacific would pay CRPD $2.9 million toward the cost of the playfield and in return the home builder would be released of all its obligations under the original Dos Vientos development agreement.

The park board approved the buyout on March 17.

“It’s something off Standard Pacific’s plate so it was agreeable to them to get it done, and for us it’s awesome because we were able to move forward with the project in a quick manner,” Hare said.

As soon as the park district took over the project, staff members quickly went to work with the design consultant to get the construction plans out to bid as soon as possible, Hare said.

The reason for their haste: “The community deserves it, plain and simple,” he said.

Bids were received in September and the winning contract, $4.10 million from Environmental Construction Inc. based out of Woodland Hills, was approved by the park board Oct. 6.

With a total estimated cost of $5.07 million—which includes previous design costs and anticipated city fees—the playfield is being paid for with the $2.9 million from Standard Pacific, $ 200,000 from Dos Vientos homeowner assessment fees that have already been collected and $1.9 million from the park district’s general fund.

Hare said the park district has the money available for the Dos Vientos Playfield because of its history of sound financial management.

“(Because) we’ve been spending less money than we’ve been taking in and because we’ve been doing a good job budgeting and cutting costs and still providing the great service we provide, we have some extra money available in the general fund for capital projects,” he said.

A groundbreaking for the playfield should take place in November, and construction is expected to last 10 months.

The park could be open to the public by the end of 2012, Hare said.

The Dos Vientos Playfield will be the first public park to open in the Thousand Oaks- Newbury Park area since Sycamore Canyon Neighborhood Park opened in 2006.

Sycamore Canyon and Dos Vientos neighborhood parks and the Dos Vientos Community Center were the three other facilities promised under the Dos Vientos master plan.

Hare said the playfield will address a CRPD priority.

“Lighted sports fields are in dire need in the community,” Hare said, specifically mentioning the park’s three softball diamonds.

In addition, the playfield will offer something new.

Though the park district does offer indoor pickleball time at the community centers, the lighted courts planned for Dos Vientos will be the first solely dedicated to the sport, which uses wooden paddles and is akin to minitennis.

“Pickleball is in very big demand and there aren’t any dedicated pickleball courts,” Hare said.

“So instead of having a temporary court, we said let’s just have one tennis court and two pickleball courts, and if pickleball fails, it will be easy to switch back to a tennis court.”

Jones said he hopes the quality of the playfield will reward the Dos Vientos residents for their patience.

“I hope the fact that there are more amenities will in some measure compensate them for the extra years they’ve had to wait,” he said.

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