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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Community Park / Surrounding Issues – By Mary Harris

Letter to the Editor – Submitted By Mary Harris

I was re-reading Lori Bledsoe’s September 2017 article in the Alpine Sun about Park Land Dedication Ordinance (PLDO) funds and how Joan MacQueen Middle School (JMMS) wants to use, the now $950,000, in the fund for athletic field upgrades. Not long ago, George Barnett, of the Alpine Community Planning Group (ACPG), wrote in the Alpine Community Network (ACN), that he envisioned a 9 Acre Sports Complex at JMMS. Lori’s article was thorough, and included that many Alpiner’s wanted a community park built here with the PLDO money. She also covered the land offer made by El Cajon developer, Daryl Priest, and the (alleged) problems that the County found with it.

Fast forward nearly four months as we approach the new year. Things have changed in the last few months that have put Alpine in the running, at long last, to FINALLY obtain a County Park! I have made it to most of the meetings regarding the issues and have learned that, according to Bill Saumier of the San Diego County Parks and Recreation, that “the floodgates are open”, meaning that millions of dollars are now available for building new county parks.

The issue that Lori Bledsoe brought up in her article concerning a problem with the county not paying for maintenance of a park once it has been built, has been resolved. As of June 2017, the county will pay for park maintenance.

Meanwhile, members of our community have had an opportunity to express themselves about these issues through a Surveymonkey survey created by a concerned resident. Over 300 locals have taken the survey to date. Questions are asked of Alpiner’s as to what THEY want to see as far as amenities in a community park, and how THEY would like to see the PLDO funds used. The overwhelming majority are responding that they want the PLDO money used for a community park vs. a sports complex or field upgrades at JMMS.

The most important amenities sought by locals? A dog park and plenty of shaded areas.

Alpiners have been misled by the ACPG to believe that there is no land available in Alpine suitable for a county park. Not so! We have also been led to believe that the County Board of Representatives has already given the green light for either the athletic field upgrades at JMMS, or the “Sports Complex” idea outlined in articles by ACPG member, George Barnett. While the ACPG apparently did meet with Diane Jacob, our County Supervisor, NO DECISION has been made regarding proposed projects at JMMS.

I have criticized the ACPG and the Alpine Unified School District (AUSD), as well as the ACPG Parks and Trails Subcommittee for not doing a good enough job announcing their meetings, not announcing their meetings early enough, and not providing basic signage to facilitate people in being able to locate the meetings.

While the AUSD and the ACPG are good with spending approximately $5,000 to make a preliminary plan for their proposed project, they can’t part with less than $100 to provide signage or flyers. What would it take to make a few flyers and post them (more than a couple of days prior to the meeting), or place a basic sign or two ?

I have also criticized the above mentioned boards for not doing enough to connect with the community they represent. How can they represent Alpine if they don’t connect with the people of Alpine? I call it Community Outreach. This is essential in order that not just a few (who happen to sit on the boards) voice their opinions, but that the community itself, rich or poor, landowners or not, Americans with white,brown, black,or any other variation of skin color, highly educated or not, and of any religious background, and of any age whereby they be old enough to vote, may be actively welcomed to participate.

When I talk to people, I often hear that they don’t think that it matters what they think because those on the boards always get what they want anyway, so what’s the point ? This leads to apathy, and undermines community spirit.

And when a board member states that the public are “warmly welcomed” at ACPG meetings, they didn’t say, unless they disagree with the board, then they may be “welcomed” as I feel was, with rudeness, being talked down to, and with intimidating physical gestures.

It’s nothing new to me, and other single women may agree, to be treated with disrespect. A woman who may be a widow, divorced, having no grown children nearby, or other family who may care what happens to her, I feel are seen as prey by predators. The reputations of some planning group members, have become tarnished in my eyes, after I feel that I have been repeatedly treated like someone that doesn’t matter.

I lived here in the mid 70’s. I helped raise my nephew here. I became a single parent in the 80’s, and moved to where the quality schools were located. I coached and supported my daughter, from her preschool years to college, and attended her graduation, where she earned her Master’s Degree. I am retirement age now, and volunteer teaching the ESL program. I attend adult school, participate in a writer’s group, and help my “older than me” neighbors who are without family and/or money.

When the ACPG and the AUSD and Alpine Education Foundation (AEF) said they all voted unanimously to prioritize the spending of the PLDO money on sports related projects at JMMS,instead of making a community park for all to use, I asked what made sports agendas the priority when there are so many other needs of students being neglected? I didn’t get an answer.

Mainly, and I finish with this, Alpine is LONG overdue in getting a community park. A recreational facility at JMMS is designed for the school community, not the community at large. The school can find its own funding for sports projects and leave the PLDO money alone. It was originally designated for a park. Just because the PLDO fund was dipped into before, approx. ($400,000) for sports fields at JMMS, does not mean that it should be permitted again.

Concerned Resident – Mary Harris


Register NOW for AEF’s Rockin’ Trail Run 5k & Fun Run – February 25, 2018

Register now for AEF’s (Alpine Education Foundation) Rockin’ Trail Run 5k & Fun Run on Sunday, February 25, 2018 (9am)at Joan MacQueen Middle School – Wright’s Field (2001 Tavern Rd. Alpine, Ca. 91901)

AEF’s Rockin’ Trail Run 5k & Fun Run is a unique trail run through beautiful Wright’s Field in Alpine, CA. Live bands play every 1/4 mile to cheer you on and pump you up! This family-friendly community event raises funds that support the schools within the Alpine Union School District. A Finisher’s Fair is held after the event with free bounce house, games, and vendors.



All proceeds benefit the Alpine Education Foundation (AEF). AEF generates funds that support educational opportunities for students of the Greater Alpine Area to better prepare today’s youth for the future through programs supporting the use of technology in the classroom, innovative practices, enhancing staff, professional development, and supplementing teacher support to allow for small group and individualized approaches to student learning. Thank you for supporting the students in Alpine! For more info please visit


We are proud to partner once again with the Back Country Land Trust for this event. Thank you to the BCLT for allowing us to use Wright’s Field so that all may enjoy its beauty during this event. For more information on the BCLT, please visit


MOVIE NIGHT FOR ALL AUSD STUDENTS at Joan MacQueen Middle School – December 12, 2017

ALL AUSD STUDENTS ARE INVITED to the Alpine Union School District’s MOVIE NIGHT on December 12, 2017 from 5:30pm to 7:30pm in the Joan MacQueen Middle School Gym (2001 Tavern Rd, Alpine, CA 91901) We will be watching Despicable Me 3! The cost is only $10 and includes pizza and a drink (Bring additional $ for the JMMS ASB Snack Bar) There will be Superintendent, Principals and Staff supervision. For additional information please call (619) 445-3245

Internet Crimes Against Children and Adolescents Presentation at Joan MacQueen Middle School – November 16, 2017

The Alpine Union School District is holding a Parent Education Night on Thursday, November 16, 2017 at 6pm in the Joan MacQueen Middle School gym (2001 Tavern Rd, Alpine, CA 91901) A speaker from the San Diego District Attorney’s office will be presenting on Internet Crimes Against Children and Adolescents. Please join us for this informative event.

  1. Learn essential aspects of keeping your child safe online.
  2. Develop strategies to assist you in talking with your child about the dangers of the internet.
  3. Understand ways to safeguard your network.


For more info please contact Mary Ann Alvarez, Executive Assistant to the Superintendent, Alpine Union School District at 619-445-3236 or email

Community Forum to Discuss the JMMS Community & Recreation Facility Project – November 9, 2017

The Alpine Union School District invites you to a Community Forum to discuss the JMMS Community and Recreation Facility Project on Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017 at 6:00 pm in the JMMS (Joan MacQueen Middle School) Gym, located at 2001 Tavern Rd, Alpine, CA 91901Join us as we cover the following topics: Be part of the process and share your perspective on the project. / Engage in collaborative dialogue with other community members. / Hear an update on the proposed project. For more info please contact Mary Ann Alvarez, Executive Assistant to the Superintendent, Alpine Union School District at 619-445-3236 or email

Upgrading Fields at Joan MacQueen for a New Sports Park Would Benefit Many – By George Barnett

By George Barnett

Have you heard about the idea of upgrading underused, unstriped, unimproved dirt fields at Joan MacQueen to multi-use, regulation sized, artificial turf fields?  The idea has these two fundamental components; One – largely paid for by an existing grant structure dedicated solely for sports/parkland by a state law that specifies school districts as the best partners.  This would be complemented by other grants.  No added cost to taxpayers; no costs to our school district.  This is not a new process.  It is how the Joan MacQueen fields were funded 20 years ago.  Now there is the opportunity to upgrade those fields with the same basis process.

Two – the set-up of a non-profit charity organization of users (school district, youth sports groups, others) to undertake the operations, maintenance and related funding.  A grass field in Alpine costs $50,000 pa to properly maintain (water, fertilizer, weed & rodent abatement, mowing, etc.).  An artificial turf field maybe half that. Who gains?  The 1800 students in Alpine schools.  The 2,000 kids in Alpine youth sports groups – soccer, lacrosse, baseball, softball, football.  And the 1000s of residents that visit the fields personally.  It’s good!

See the full story here:

Submitted By George Barnett


*Have Something to Say? Leave a Comment in the Section Below!


AES PRESENTATION: “What Does Your Teen or Tween Want You to Know But Won’t Tell You?” – August 24, 2017

Alpine Union School District Parent Education Series “What Does Your Teen or Tween Want You to Know But Won’t Tell You?” Join us for an informative and interactive parent evening facilitated by “Teentruth” on Thursday, August 24, 2017 at 6pm at Joan MacQueen Middle School. (2001 Tavern Rd. Alpine) How do we create an environment for our students to thrive at school and at home?
Develop creative strategies to support your child – Redefine tween & teen leadership and understand critical campus issues. For more info please contact Mary Ann Alvarez, Executive Assistant to the Superintendent – Alpine Union School District 619-445-3236 or email

Watch “TOP GUN” Fun Flicks Movie Night Under the Stars – August 19, 2017

August 19 is just around the corner!! Do you have your tickets yet??? Alpine Kiwanis will be hosting its Annual “Fun Flicks Under the Stars!“ at Joan MacQueen Middle School. We are going retro this year and showing Top Gun. (Rated PG) Tickets are available at the door, at CORE Realty, Postal Annex, the Alpine Community Center or from any Kiwanian. Come join the fun under the stars! Bring a blanket and the all of the family! Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Movie starts at dusk. Tickets are $10 which includes hamburger, chips and drink. Proceeds benefit Granite Hills High School Key Club Scholarship fund. There will also be a 50/50 Raffle and snacks available! For more info contact

AEF Proposes 9-Acre Professional Sports Complex at Joan MacQueen Middle School

Good evening, everyone. Perhaps you have heard, Alpine Education Foundation has been working on a concept to upgrade and complete the sports fields at Joan MacQueen Middle School.  This aerial presents the concept: complete rehabilitation of the “Upper Field”; conversion of the “Lower Field” to artificial turf; conversion of the dirt softball field to multi-use artificial turf; the addition of a racket ball wall and concession stand.  In summary, the project is about the creation of a 9-acre professional Sports Complex.  (scroll down after concept aerial)

Alpine Education Foundation presented this project to the Alpine Community Planning Group and to the public on Thursday July 27, 2017.

Here’s an example depicting a completion concept for the dirt softball field. Before: as it is now… DIRT!  After:  artificial turf, tri-use softball/soccer/football use.  (scroll down after aerial & concept schematic)

*Have something to say? Use the comments section below this post!


UPDATE & FOLLOW UP (7-30-17): This additional information below was also submitted by George Barnett in response to some of the comments that were made in the comments section of this post:

“Hi, folks! Please look at Alpine Elementary School (AES), a school open since the 50s and never had a sports playing field other than decomposed granite dirt playground!  By tapping into grant funding that can legally only be spent on youth sports/parkland infrastructure, AES now has a fine multi-use/soccer field that serves the 300 or so students plus as high as 600 AYSO soccer members in the season.  This was a joint project by the AES PTA leadership, Alpine Education Foundation (AEF) and the Alpine Community Planning Group (ACPG) that did not cost taxpayers or our school district one additional dime.  And, various youth sports groups are considering taking-on the financial responsibility for maintenance and upkeep.  That’s more school district budget dollars for the classrooms.

AEF has just conducted a Summer PE/Sports Camp on that field that was over-subscribed.  Lots of photos at AEF Facebook page.  Please look and see how we in Alpine can do better, and we can have better than dirt playgrounds, and at no added cost to taxpayers or to the school district!

Look at Joan MacQueen, a school built nearly 20 years ago with a 900 student capacity, and half the area reserved for youth sports is again DG dirt, unmarked, un-striped, weed-choked and under-utilized as many of our youth sports groups choose to go “down the hill” rather than play here in Alpine.  The grass Upper Field is un-striped, in sad, sad shape, and is an amorphous layout of odd dimensions that fits no known sport.  It is a playground, and not a good one.  Please go take a look.

The grass Lower Field is about the same, although it is surrounded by a “running track” that is just more DE dirt with non-regulation unmarked lane-width and non-standard length. Please go take a look.

What about other user needs?  One of many examples, Alpine has a long established and large Pop Warner Football program.  Notwithstanding Viejas graciously permitting practice on a grass field at the Reservation, there is no football field in Alpine.  Serious practice and all games and tournaments are held “down-the-hill”. We do not have adequate facilities that permit our middle school to have its own organized softball and football programs associated with any league play.  It sounds harsh, but we have 3rd world sports facilities in this town.

The AEF proposal for JMMS was initially made public at last Thursday’s ACPG meeting.  It is an all-volunteer effort intending to bring our Middle School facilities up to “norm” by resurrecting the successful all-volunteer AES Project Team, by applying for sports grants that can be used for no other purpose than sports infrastructure, and doing so at no added costs to taxpayers or the school district.

How can the public participate?  Start attending meetings of the ACPG’s Parks & Recreation Subcommittee.  They will be publicly noticed in newspapers, posted around town, and posted on the great Alpine Community Network.  The ACPG is our equivalent of a ‘town council’ and the board is elected by you.  If your child plays soccer, softball, lacrosse or football in a local youth sports league, or would like to, start attending those meetings and listen to those organizations talk about the need to better serve our youth with decent sports playing fields. And remember, this is a proposal by an all-volunteer organization to tap into grants solely available for sports infrastructure investments.  We can have decent facilities at no additional cost to taxpayers and to our 1,800 student school district.  Yes, I keep repeating that.  But it is the key to the proposal.  To me, not trying to do this “makes entirely no sense”!

This need, and this solution proposal, is independent from the activities of the Alpine High School Citizens Committee that is the Petitioner to the State Board of Education for the unification of our k-8 district into a k-12 district with its own high school. 

It is also independent of the Alpine Tax Payers for Bond Accountability that is in a legal battle against Grossmont to reserve our property taxes that we voted to increase for an Alpine high school. 

And while the proposal is to serve a 900-student capacity Middle School, and then the other 900 students in our district, and then all of our community’s youth sports franchises too, it certainly would be of value when we finally do get our high school.  The proposal reinforces the Alpine Union School District when we finally do get our high school, and reinforces the District’s Vision as the “Destination School District of the East County”!  Pretty cool!  That’s where I want my 4 grandkids living in Alpine to go to school!

On artificial turf, past issues of safety have been offset by new technologies, and turf is no longer made by grinding-up used tires.  In fact, there are many new technologies that mitigate against excessive heat.

So, please get involved in a project that lifts of Middle School sports playing fields out of the Middle Ages, and at no added costs to taxpayers or to the school district. This proposal is going to be promoted across Alpine in coming weeks and months to listen to concerns, needs and to hopefully build support.  And remember, it won’t cost you a dime!

Respectfully, George Barnett

The above comments are my personal views.  But for full disclosure, I am a member of the Alpine High School Citizens Committee petitioning the State for a unified Alpine high school.  I am a member of Alpine Tax Payers for Bond Accountability and Plaintiff in the spending injunction lawsuit against Grossmont to reserve our property taxes for an Alpine high school.  I am an officer and director of Alpine Education Foundation, a non-profit charity committed to enhancing education and youth well-being in Alpine schools.  And I am an elected member of the Alpine Community Planning Group. – George Barnett



Wednesday, July 26, 2017

To: Members of the ACPG, Members of the AEF, and the Community at Large.

Re: Playing Fields Redevelopment at Joan McQueen Middle School.

To: All concerned, I am a resident on White Oak Drive, directly adjacent the Lower and Middle Playing Fields which looms 8 to 20 feet above my property and, all of the properties on White Oak Drive. There is a 5 foot tall chain link fence as the only barrier between our property and the Playing Fields which allows direct views into my property, objects to regularly fly into my property, and it provides virtually no sound barrier from regular gym classes or special events.

The Lower Dirt Playing Field, from my observations, already works well as a multi-purpose Sport Field, quite suitable for Middle School Physical Education Classes and as an overflow parking area for certain school events. There is also the factor that the field as it already exists is a low cost low maintenance multi-function area, already well used by the public after hours.

If the proposed artificial turf field plan was to be implemented, I foresee several real problems especially as a multi-use activity area. But the primary problem will be the limited use, cost, and dangers of any Artificial Turf Playing Field.

  1. Limited Use:
  2. Area can no longer be used as a parking lot.
  3. Other field events like shot put and discus would damage field.
  4. Special footwear is recommended for any sport on artificial turf.
  5. It would require controlled access to prevent damage to turf from unsupervised extracurricular activities.


  1. Cost:
  2. The initial cost of the development and installation of an Artificial Turf Playing field.
  3. Football sized area of Field Turf costs around $5,000 a year to properly maintain.
  4. Weed abatement as windblown seeds can easily take root.


  1. Dangers of Artificial Turf:
  2. The recycled materials used to make, “disinfect”, and control weeds in Artificial Turf are proven toxic, especially for children.
  3. Artificial Turf can get extremely hot, 140-180 degrees, especially in hot arid zones, such as Alpine. A double edged sword; as the turf heats up more toxins are released and the risk of burns from direct contact increases.

I have also discovered, as a result of going to the San Diego County Offices Department of Planning and Land Use, (DPLU) to make enquiries about the Joan McQueen Middle School planned “Field Development”, that all school planning and permits must go through the California Department of Education in Sacramento. The Alpine Community Planning Group [ACPG], in their statement in the June 20th issue of the Alpine Sun, page 15, letter D, # 2 “…that the group is formed for the purpose of advising and assisting the Director of Planning, the Zoning Administrator, the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors” … insinuates that the ACPG is “advising and assisting” the San Diego County DPLU.

As the County of San Diego has no authority in the approval or the development and improvements of public schools, who at the State level are the ACPG consulting?

In the same article in the latest Alpine Sun, under G #2, indicating that the Alpine Education Foundation, (AEF) will make a presentation regarding their proposal to renovate the playing field at JMMS, with “Discussion and Action”. There is no invitation or notification to the residents immediately adjacent to the playing fields who would be most impacted by this proposed “9 Acre Professional Sports Complex.”

If it were not for a neighbor calling a neighbor who informed me of “… a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity to participate in one of the largest public use projects ever undertaken by a community non-profit effort in Alpine’s 100 plus years…It’s a Pretty Big Deal…) {sic} George Barnett, we homeowners bordering JMMS would be totally unaware of this grandiose public use project that is likely to have a negative impact on the amenity of our property and other adjoining properties.

Therefore I am not certain that this expensive project, is realistic or necessary in our community. I am also very concerned about the lack of transparency by the ACPG and the AEF in their failure to notify or include the owners of properties adjoining the School of their intent, by keeping us uninformed as to the entire concept including whether additional lighting is in the proposal and what “Professional Sports” will be utilizing this proposed complex and when, and the risk of liability to the school involving non-school affiliated activities.

In my opinion the fact that George Barnett wants kudos for the, “largest public use project….by a community non-profit in Alpine’s 100 plus years…It’s a Pretty Big Deal…”, is not reason enough to vote such a project into reality, especially when there are so many unknowns and unanswered questions.

Concerned Alpine resident C.B.


Original Post Submitted by:
George Barnett, Officer & Director – Alpine Education Foundation








Joan MacQueen Middle School Band & Trash Can Percussion Awarded Silver & Gold Rating

CONGRATULATIONS to the Joan MacQueen Middle School (JMMS) Band and Trash can percussion 2016-2017! They have been awarded the Silver and gold rating at the Forum Music Festival in Irvine! Would you like info about our Band program? Call or e-mail: Tracy Rabasco at Joan MacQueen Middle School (619) 445-3245 X305