New amenities at Wellfield Park are expanding the recreational opportunities in Ramona and providing COVID-friendly options to play solo.
Among the offerings are a tournament-level 15-lane horseshoe concourse, with three practice lanes outside and 12 inside a chain link fence, and a 9-basket disc golf course that opened Jan. 15. Both are accessible off Elm Street, with the first tee of disc golf located near the horseshoe pits.
The 166-acre park is also unveiling two new sports fields, one for soccer games and one as a multi-sport field for either softball or soccer, bringing the total to at least two dozen athletic fields. New solar-powered scoreboards for girls’ softball round out the roughly $600,000 in upgrades recently opened.
The park land owner, Ramona Municipal Water District, awarded a $541,816 contract for the work to the lowest bidder, Western Rim Constructors, Inc., of Escondido last July. Funds to pay the contractor were drawn from Park Land Dedication Ordinance fees collected from developers as they built projects in the community.
With team sports sidelined by coronavirus restrictions, the community will benefit short-term from the horseshoe and disc golf additions and over the long term from the playing fields and scoreboards, said Dawn Perfect, Ramona Parks and Recreation Association executive director.
“It took many years to see this through to completion and we’ve begun taking steps to get lighting for the athletic fields,” Perfect said. “I’m so excited about all of the improvements we have down here. It’s nice to have a mix of amenities and include individual sports. The timing couldn’t have been better for the addition of these individual sports.”
Perfect said the National Horseshoe Pitching Association may sublease the property in order to host tournaments in lease arrangements patterned after frequent park users, Ramona Adult Softball and Ramona Soccer League.
The NHPA’s first tournament at Wellfield Park is set for Saturday, Jan. 30, and starts at 10 a.m. Another tournament is set for the following Saturday, Feb. 6.
Ramona resident Jorge Romero, a champion horseshoe player and member of the association, said signups for up to 24 participants will be held from 9 to 9:30 a.m. on tournament days. New members should arrive early to qualify to play and join the NHPA.
Membership in the association costs $35 per year and entry fees for each tournament cost $10. Romero said NHPA members can play horseshoes in Ramona and at Balboa Park, Cardiff-by-the-Sea and Los Angeles. Fees also cover awards.
On Jan. 20, Romero joined the NHPA representative from Los Angeles, Hal Grisworld, in inspecting Wellfield’s lanes. Also referred to as “The Coliseum,” the concourse passed muster and is certified to host state and Southern California NHPA tournaments. Romero has already scheduled 12 NHPA tournaments for this year in Ramona.
NHPA contests have priority scheduling for the dozen lanes inside the fence, but the three lanes outside the fence are open to the public, he said.
“This took a lot of hard work and determination to get it done,” said Romero, president of the Ramona Horseshoe Club.
The adjacent disc golf course is now open from dawn to dusk with no appointments necessary and is free to the public. Players can bring their own disc for the course, which is designed so novices will be able to navigate it, Perfect said.
“These are things we can do during COVID to get outdoors and have fun,” she said. “We can do these by ourselves or with friends and be perfectly safe.”
Perfect said she started a Ramona Disc Golf Facebook page to help players connect to other players, and within the first few hours 60 visitors expressed an interest.
“People are excited,” she said. “They are asking me about an opening day event and I am working on it.”
Although former longtime county Supervisor Dianne Jacob was instrumental in completing the park’s amenities, her replacement Joel Anderson is being asked to participate in an as yet unscheduled opening day ceremony.
The next anticipated addition to Wellfield Park is outdoor lighting for the sports complex. Last August, the Ramona Community Planning Group recommended that $700,000 of Park Land Dedication Ordinance money be used for lighting of the fields, although Perfect said the final determination has yet to be made by the county. No timeline has been set on when the lighting will be installed, she said.
Farther down the road, the park could get a 5K running course, Perfect said. She foresees the project as being affordable. The course would have to be measured and designed and then markers would be installed because it would incorporate mostly existing trails.
“There seems to be community support for the project,” she said. “It’s in the concept stage right now. It would utilize the existing trail system in the park.”
A course map would need to be drawn and published, and possibly made accessible online, Perfect said. Along with recreational users, high school track runners could use it for training and competitions, and organizations could use it for fundraisers, ultimately avoiding hazardous street running, she said.
Perfect said the Ramona Park and Recreation Association Board, comprised of a dozen volunteers representing sports, trails, the senior center, junior fair and Ramona Outdoor Community Center interests, deserves the lion’s share of credit for seeing the latest Wellfield Park projects through to fruition.
“The board members are dedicated volunteers who work together to make these things happen,” she said.