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Coastal Commission OKs Sunset Ridge Park

Plans for the proposed oceanfront park in West Newport include soccer fields, a baseball diamond, pedestrian paths and more.

West Newport is closer to having its own sports park, thanks to approval given to the city of Newport Beach by the California Coastal Commission Thursday, city officials reported.

The Coastal Commission voted 8 to 4 to approve the permit for the proposed Sunset Ridge Park, making way for the city of Newport Beach to build a recreational park at the intersection of Pacific Coast Highway and Superior Avenue. The Coastal Commission staff previously considered denying the Sunset Ridge project because of the mowing on the site which contains an Encelia scrub that is a habitat for the California gnatcatcher.

The commissioners ultimately decided the project site did not fall into the environmentally sensitive habitat area essentially because the property has been mowed for decades. Mayor Nancy Gardner said she is grateful for the Commission's approval of the Sunset Ridge plans.

"The project will take a vacant, barely accessible piece of land and create a park with places for kids to play sports and places for people of all ages to relax and look out onto the Pacific Ocean,” Gardner said.

Councilman Steve Rosansky said while the city bought the property from Caltrans in 2006 and began the design process in 2008, the plans to build a park in the area dates back to 20 years of planning.

“We held a series of public meetings and heard what West Newport residents, parents, local youth sports coaches, and other interested citizens wanted in the park," Rosansky, who represents the West Newport district, said. "We believe the plan balances those needs.”

The park project includes a baseball diamond that overlaps in an area with two soccer fields, a children’s playground, a grass warm-up field, pedestrian paths around the the park, view areas, a shade structure, and a restroom/storage facility.

A construction start date for Sunset Ridge Park has not been scheduled, city officials said.

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