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Mountain bike courses coming to new Carlsbad park

Carlsbad’s first bicycle park, with a pump track, jumps, a slalom course and other features, is included in the recently approved master plan for the long-awaited 94-acre Veterans Memorial Park.

Trails, native gardens, three playgrounds, adult fitness areas, a large shaded plaza and a memorial honoring military service veterans also are included in the design for the sprawling park on rolling hills overlooking Agua Hedionda Lagoon and the Pacific Ocean.

About 39 acres will be developed with the memorial, trails and recreational attractions and 55 acres will be preserved as natural open space, Parks and Recreation Director Kyle Lancaster said in a recent presentation to the Carlsbad City Council. The site is along Faraday Avenue at Cannon Road, near the geographic center of the city.

The layout was developed over several years with input from the community and groups such as San Diego Mountain Biking Association.

One of several courses in the bike park portion will be the pump track — a circuit of rolling hills, banked turns and other features that allow mountain bike riders to maintain their speed with a “pumping” body action rather than pedaling.

“You really have a lot of people rooting for this,” said the association’s executive director, Susie Murphy, at the July 26 Carlsbad City Council meeting. “I can’t wait to see everybody enjoying the park in a couple years.”

Construction of Veterans Memorial Park is expected to cost a little more than $22 million, most of which the city has collected from developers through fees paid into a community facilities district established in 1991. The project is expected to go out to bid in 2023 and be completed in about two years.

“The park renderings look really good,” said Councilmember Teresa Acosta. “It’s going to be a beautiful park, just like all our other parks.”

The land is what’s left of a larger contiguous city parcel of about 400 acres known as Macario Canyon. Some of the property was used to build Faraday Avenue, and a big piece became part of The Crossings at Carlsbad, an 18-hole golf course completed in 2007.

Several previous plans for the park failed to work out.

In the mid-1980s, the city looked at building lighted baseball, softball, soccer and football fields, along with a community center and gymnasium on the property. In the early 1990s, a rock concert promoter negotiated with the city for approval to build a 27,000-seat outdoor theater, according to a story in the Los Angeles Times archives. Both projects raised environmental concerns, and never got far.

Especially noisy uses and sports field lighting are prohibited because of the protected habitats on the property.

The hilly terrain and sensitive habitat on the site would make it difficult to build facilities such as sports fields, basketball or tennis courts, or any buildings with a large footprint such as an amphitheater or community center.

The family-oriented bicycle portion of the park will take up about four acres at the southern end near Faraday Avenue. It’s also the part of the park farthest from any residential neighborhood. A separate parking area, restroom buildings and spectator areas will be included.

The north side of the park also will have parking, along with the memorial plaza, a community gathering area, restrooms, playgrounds and picnic areas, all linked by handicapped-accessible pathways.