By Delle Willett
Despite the many setbacks businesses faced in 2020, landscape architecture plans for Sweetwater Park and Harbor Park were advanced with the issuance of Coastal Development Permits (CDP) from the Port of San Diego — in April for Sweetwater Park and in December for Harbor Park.
Both parks are part of the Chula Vista Bayfront Master Plan—a close partnership between the Port of San Diego and the City of Chula Vista.
The design effort for the parks was overseen by San Diego’s KTUA Planning and Landscape Architecture, who also led the design of Sweetwater Park.
Located adjacent to the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Sweetwater Park will focus on natural-resource restoration and environmental education, with miles of trails, boardwalks, and overlooks set within a 21-acre mosaic of restored coastal scrub, maritime dune, and salt marsh.
KTUA’s project partner and sub-consultant, Petersen Studio, a Landscape Architecture practice specializing in large public parks and waterfronts, was the Design Lead for Harbor Park, located just south of Sweetwater Park and adjacent to the planned Resort Conference Center/Hotel and the existing Chula Vista Marina.
Harbor Park is set to become an actively programmed waterfront destination. The 23-acre park will replace existing Bayside Park, encouraging interaction with the bay by diversifying shoreline edge experiences with a waterfront promenade and a new urban beach for south bay residents.
Delivery of Harbor Park will be phased, with the first phase including the new beach and its adjacent constructed headlands. The first phase will also include construction of temporary showers and restrooms, meadow and lawn areas, a pocket marsh, and a segment of the waterfront promenade. Phase-one improvements will interface with the southernmost portion of the existing Bayside Park, which will remain until the full ultimate buildout of Harbor Park is complete.
Park amenities in the future, unscheduled, full-park buildout will also include a café, boathouse for watersports rentals, a large multi-use lawn, a family play area and picnic groves, an interactive fountain, destination pier, plazas, and public art, set within the context of several acres of colorful 4-season gardens. The 3-acre Bayside Lawn will accommodate the daily recreational needs of visitors while hosting a wide range of performances, events, and festivals that will transform the park into an outstanding regional destination.
The Port approved a CDP for the $12-million Sweetwater Park in April 2020. Planned for the northern portion of the Chula Vista Bayfront near E Street and Bay Boulevard, Sweetwater Park is envisioned as a naturalistic open space that would showcase the unique ecological assets of the Chula Vista Bayfront.
The park’s 21 acres will include bay overlooks, interpretively themed restroom and plaza spaces, multi-use meadow and picnic areas, a nature playground and a natural dunes adventure area with boulders, logs, and rock-climbing structures, all incorporated into a simulated dune experience.
Together, the parks will deliver the long-awaited, enhanced shoreline recreation opportunities and active commercial harbor that the City of Chula Vista has wanted for a long time. As Commissioner Ann Moore, Chula Vista’s representative on the Port of San Diego Board of Port Commissioners stated, “Harbor and Sweetwater Park will help to create the vibrant, innovative destination we envision for the Chula Vista Bayfront—a unique and welcoming place for people to live, work and play. When the bayfront transformation is complete, the public will enjoy more than 200 acres of parks, a shoreline promenade, walking trails, RV camping, shopping, dining and more.”
Said Stephen Nunez, KTUA Project Manager, “The parks’ partnering design teams bring design experience that assures that both Sweetwater Park and Harbor Park will meet the community’s high expectations for the future of the Chula Vista bayfront.”
Planned construction for Sweetwater Park and the first phase of Harbor Park is tentatively scheduled to begin in early 2023 and to reach completion in mid-2024.
— Delle Willett is a freelance writer and public relations consultant. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org