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Locals Wary of Fiesta Island Development


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Right now, Mission Bay’s Fiesta Island is a haven for dogs whose owners let them run off the leash or swim in the bay. But pending development will change that open-space landscape that some locals have come to love.  The question is: by how much?

City officials and a design firm just unveiled plans at a public meeting at the Balboa Park Club, where locals also had a chance to make last-minute suggestions.

Right now, Fiesta Island is nearly 500 acres of mostly undeveloped space in Mission Bay. Fisherman use it, cyclists, joggers, even novice wind surfers can try their luck -- and homemade sails -- here on the bay.  And, it's probably known to most as the place where dogs and their owners can run wild.  They say they like the island this way: undeveloped.

Bonnie Okeefe, Dog Owner : There's enough developed things around the area. I think it’s nice to have one area that's not developed, where the dogs can just run free and have a good space to do it in. And just interact with other dogs, and we get exercise.

The city says it's found a compromise. Plans for the new Fiesta Island include an off-leash area.

Paul Jacob, City of San Diego Parks : We're proposing to still allow dogs to be off leash on over 200 acreas. Part of that will be the beach areas, part of that will behind a fence , and other parts of the island that are currently open for dog use.

Plans also include grassy areas, a swimming beach, and cycling and walking trails. The city says the developed side of Mission Bay is over-crowded -- and this new space would allow more room for people who want to enjoy the bay.

The cost to turn this into that will be more than $400 million. Park officials say while there may not be city money ear-marked for the project, there are a number of state and federal grants that would fund a big part of the development.

Of course the plans must go through several committees and ultimately city council before approval. And that could take another year.

Note: Due to our March membership campaign, Full Focus will not air at 11:00 p.m. tonight.

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