Lake Elsinore goes to the dogs with completion of Summerly Community Park

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Lake Elsinore Mayor Pro Tem Bob Magee gets a cuddle from his dog Zoey as he welcomes those gathered to celebrate the completion of Summerly Community Park Wednesday, March 4. The newly completed park includes a dog park, shaded play areas and soccer and baseball fields. Valley News/Courtesy photo

Lake Elsinore has gone to the dogs.

Dogs of all shapes and sizes now have a place of their own to frolic and play at the city’s recently completed Summerly Community Park. The city celebrated the milestone Wednesday, March 4, with a ribbon cutting and a “pawsome” celebration that included a special invitation to the canines who call the city home.

“Don’t let it ever be said that a politician won’t share the stage,” Lake Elsinore Mayor Pro Tem Bob Magee said in his opening remarks as he petted his dog Zoey, who sat atop the podium observing the crowd. “We are truly blessed as we sit here in this valley.”

Magee said that the planning for Summerly Community Park began 40 years earlier, following the devastating floods of 1980 that destroyed homes and knocking out power for days. Rebuilding was banned in the area as the back basin filled with runoff from the San Jacinto River.

“You have to realize that none of this happened by accident,” he said. “As the floodwaters began to recede, the city leaders dedicated themselves to a commitment to rebuild and to make this floodplain useable again.”

Magee said the former city leaders worked with the Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation eventually building the levy that sits behind the park, reclaiming the land.

“They set high standards and goals for what would be down here,” Magee said. “We are an active, recreation community… This is why we live here.”

Magee said that as the plans for Summerly Community Park began to develop city leaders set forth a high standard to include lush landscaping, trails, parks, four-sided architecture for the architecture of the homes and a golf course.

“It had to be built and operational before a single home could be occupied,” he said, adding that the city set the bar high.

With the completion of the 24-acre Summerly Community Park, featuring two dog park areas – the fifth one for the city – one for small and the other for large breeds, a shaded children’s play park and a grassy event area complete with picnic areas and barbecues available for public use, the city is seeing the results of the efforts made by earlier city leaders.

The park also boasts four baseball fields with lighted, shaded dugouts, bleachers, a fenced bullpen and score table, restrooms, park storage, concession stand, a soccer field with sloped turf for spectators, basketball courts with shade pavilion and bench seating, a 10,000-square-foot skate park, an outdoor event circle with picnic tables and parking for more than 250 vehicles.

The $10 million price tag for the park, which was completed in three phases, was paid by developer McMillin Summerly LLC who also donated the land for the park to the city, according to assistant city manager Nicole Dailey.

Brian Milich with the McMillian Summerly project also spoke at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, saying it was almost to the day10 years ago that McMillian came to the city and acquired the project.

“There were nine model homes that were unoccupied, a golf course that was built and not in operation,” he said, adding that in that 10 years McMillian developed over 1,200 homes 1,677 lots and community facilities within the Summerly area of Lake Elsinore.

“I do honestly believe that our diamond in all of this is this community park,” Milich said. “The city has been an incredible partner in this. In my 35 years of doing this, I don’t think I have been more proud of a community and a 24-acre community park than this one.”

For more information on Summerly Community Park, visit www.lake-elsinore.org.

Kim Harris can be reached by email at valleyeditor@reedermedia.com.