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Chula Vista community members calling on officials to revamp Harborside Park

Community members in Chula Vista are calling on officials to "reimagine" Harborside Park after it was closed due to a string of crimes and issues.

CHULA VISTA, Calif. — The City of Chula Vista has turned to the community for feedback following controversy and safety issues surrounding Harborside Park

A public workshop was held Monday, 5:00 – 7:00 p.m., at Harborside Elementary to engage the public for input on revitalizing the 5-acre property on Oxford Street.

"I think it's fascinating. Now we're reimagining it so we can make sure we can reopen the park with the community's input," said Chula Vista City Councilmember John McCann. 

"The west side of our city doesn't have the number of parks that the rest of our city has. And that's been one of the goals, is to be able to increase the parkland on the west side," McCann added.

When the park became overrun with homeless encampments, crime, and open drug usage this past summer, parents grew concerned about the safety of their kids attending Harborside Elementary next door.

"There was just major illicit drug use, and there was criminal activity, and our children and families of Harborside didn't feel safe being there," said McCann, who voted for the park's closure in late August along with the other city councilmembers.

The closure brought about the cleanup of dozens of tents and encampments and cost the city $350,000.

"We put a chain-link fence around it," said McCann. "We have around-the-clock security so we can make sure we keep the park safe, keep it closed, so we can come together as a community to find out how we want to move forward and how we want to improve the park."

After several public workshops, city staff shared the community survey results, which were used to gauge people's opinions on how they'd like to see the park improved. 

Some ideas included expanded playgrounds, exercise equipment, and classroom areas, but one thought, in particular, gained the most traction within the community.

"They'd like to see a recreation center," said McCann. "But most importantly, everybody wants it to be safe, making sure that families and children can attend and participate without any threat of either violence or even having to experience witnessing illicit activity."

City staff told CBS 8 they're planning to discuss the issue of Harborside Park again at a city council meeting in December.

WATCH RELATED: Chula Vista City Council unanimously votes to temporarily close Harborside Park for 90-days


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