Spanning 21 acres of waterfront property in the South Bay and costing an estimated $12 million, the now officially green-lighted Sweetwater Park is a symbol of what’s in store for Chula Vista’s changing bayfront.

Port commissioners Tuesday OK’d issuance of the park’s coastal development permit, which allows for final design work and eventual development of the public attraction where passive recreation and expansive views should complement natural preserves.

A signature piece of the 2012-approved redevelopment plan for Chula Vista’s mostly vacant, industrial shoreline, Sweetwater Park is meant as a meadow-like environment for relatively quiet enjoyment and reflection. It’s planned for the northern portion of the waterfront project near E Street and Bay Boulevard. It’s adjacent to the Sweetwater Marsh National Wildlife Refuge.

Features include a simulated dune area with boulders and logs for kids to climb on, three wildlife viewing facilities, a network of pedestrian paths and a pavilion for small groups. Additionally, Sweetwater Park will have public restrooms and multiple parking lots, as well as interactive signage to educate guests on the area’s cultural and environmental resources.

Tuesday’s action, taken during the San Diego Unified Port District’s regularly scheduled board meeting, means park construction is anticipated to begin in the summer or fall of 2022. Work is estimated to be completed in 12 to 18 months’ time.

“The parks that are being designed and planned, including Sweetwater Park, will give us the long-awaited, enhanced shoreline recreation and active commercial harbor we’ve wanted for quite some time in the South Bay,” said Port Chair Ann Moore, who represents Chula Vista. “Sweetwater Park, specifically, will allow us to appreciate nature on our bayfront, while also protecting the wildlife habitat, species, and our precious coastal resources.”

The park is being funded through a joint development agreement between the Port of San Diego, the City of Chula Vista and RIDA Development, which was created to build the Gaylord Pacific resort hotel and convention center. The park must be completed before the resort opens.

Meanwhile, the separate-but-connected Sweetwater Path project is already under construction. The multi-use pedestrian and bicycle path spans the length of the park and is expected to be completed by December 2020.

The park project is just one of two in the works for the master-planned bayfront region. Currently in the design phase, Harbor Park is intended as the active recreation counterpart to Sweetwater Park. It’s anticipated to include a boat launch, a cafe and waterside terraces. Harbor Park is expected to receive its coastal development permit this summer.

Source: San Diego Union-Tribune