Project may go in phases

Newport Beach could phase in plans for a multimillion-dollar park and sailing center on the Balboa Peninsula to lessen the project’s effect on the city’s already strained budget, city officials said Tuesday.

The City Council on Tuesday night approved an environmental-impact report for the park.

Preliminary estimates have put the cost of the park as high as $23 million. The plans could now be realized in three phases, said Dave Webb, deputy director of public works.

“Based on how the economy is, we will move forward,” he said.

City officials project Newport Beach will face an $8-million deficit for the budget year beginning July 1 and a $12-million deficit during the 2011-12 fiscal year. Phasing the Marina Park project would allow the city to spread the cost of the project over multiple budget years.

The city hopes to get federal and state grants and/or loans to help finance the project.

Designs for the new municipal park include a 10,800-square-foot community center and a 11,200-foot sailing center with a cafe inside. A new, 23-slip marina included in the plans would include electricity that visiting sailors could buy with coin- and credit card-operated machines.

If the park plans are phased, the first phase would involved tearing down the mobile home park that now sits on the site. Concrete sidewalks and temporary restrooms also will be installed.

New turf, picnic tables and benches would be installed in the second phase. The marina, community center, playground and sailing center would be built as part of a third phase.

Work on the first phase of the project is tentatively scheduled to begin in August 2011. The most recent timeline for the project would see the completion of phase three in May 2013.

“I feel this will be a great asset to the community,” Councilman Don Webb said. “I hope we get phase three done sooner rather than later.”

The future park site is between 18th Street and the American Legion Post on 15th Street, along West Balboa Avenue.

The city has owned the land since 1919 and it has been the spot of a mobile home park since 1955. Residents protested plans for a resort there, and now the land is slated to become a public park.

The park plans are expected to go before the California Coastal Commission in November.

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