An undeveloped parcel of land near Imperial Beach may be headed for a makeover. Called Pond 20, the nondescript 95-acre parcel is at the eastern entrance to Imperial Beach at 1400 Palm Avenue, an area that many consider to be the gateway to South County's beaches.
The Port acquired the parcel in October 1998 as part of the Western Salt land acquisition. That purchase netted the Port 836 acres, of which 722 were transferred to the State of California as offsite mitigation for the expansion of San Diego International Airport. The 722 acres were used to create the South San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge and the remaining acres were left to the Port for future development. After the split of the airport from the Port in 2003, the 95.13 acres of Pond 20 remained in the Port's jurisdiction.
The wetland areas may create limitations on what may be developed there. The Port, the City of Imperial Beach and the City of San Diego will work with resource agencies involved to determine the best uses for the area.
At the Tuesday, January 11, 2011 Board of Port Commissioners meeting, the Board directed staff to negotiate a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the City of Imperial Beach, the City of San Diego and the Port to explore further development of the area and for the three agencies to work together to achieve this.
"Our city enthusiastically supports the idea of a three-party MOU among the City of San Diego, the Port and Imperial Beach to explore future uses for Pond 20," said Jim Janney, Mayor of Imperial Beach. "We believe the site can be an enhanced regional asset that benefits the Port, all South Bay cities and the southern area of San Diego."
Also speaking in favor of the MOU were Cindy Gompper-Graves, Chief Executive Officer of the South County Economic Development Council.
"This area needs an immediate solution to its condition and the South County Economic Development Council is ready to help," she said. "We look forward to working with the Port to create this economic opportunity."
Vivian Moreno, Community Representative for City of San Diego District 8 Councilmember David Alvarez, read a statement from the Councilmember. In the statement, Councilmember Alvarez said that he would like to see some type of redevelopment project. He urged the Port to research a potential development.
"Let's take the fence down now and do some temporary work on the area to improve it," said Commissioner Lou Smith, who represents the City of Coronado on the Board of Port Commissioners. Commissioner Smith said he often rides his bicycle near Pond 20 and that he wished it offered a nicer view.
Next steps include looking at ways to improve the area's aesthetics. These include improving the fencing, and cleaning up weeds and debris. The Port, the City of Imperial Beach and the City of San Diego will conduct negotiations on the MOU to establish mutual goals and objectives for Pond 20's future development. A project scope, schedule, timeline and budget will be developed, along with a community outreach program. Port staff will return to the Board of Port Commissioners in the coming months for final authorization of the MOU.