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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








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  1. I think something is missing in Mr. Barnett’s articles: “It won’t cost you a dime”, he states. Well, yes it will. What the cost will be is the LOSS of ALL the Park Land Dedicated Ordinance (PLDO) funds. That is to say, the $900,000 that is now in that fund that has been reserved for a community park in Alpine for the use of ALL residents. The notion that a plastic grass playing field is somehow equitable to a real grass,fully developed, REAL park is so ridiculous that it makes you wonder … A salesman will say anything to make a sale. What’s sad is that there are those naive enough to believe this sales pitch.

  2. In his comment to the proposed sports complex at JMMS, Mike Graney states that all the artificial turf fields in Alpine (theres more than the one at AES?) do not use black crumb infill made from ground up tires. I called “Outback Turf Co. ” who did the AES field which has noticible black crumb infill … at 619 722 4242 … the number on their banner next to the AES field, and that number has been disconnected with no forwarding number, so i couldnt have my questions about the materials they use, answered. So much for standing behind your product Outback.
    C. B.

  3. Has anyone ever approached the YMCA? They would LOVE to have a full facility in Alpine WITH a swimming pool…

  4. I live near Joan McQueen and am directly impacted by parking and traffic during the day. A Sports Complex – while it may be needed at the school – would probably increase traffic and the problems that come with it.
    More importantly we are forgetting that the Alpine School District employees and teachers are the LOWEST paid in the county! Why are we not spending time fixing that injustice first? Our children deserve the best teachers and administrators – paying them less than other districts encourages them to go elsewhere. The priority should be fixing pay scales to increase academics – then sports!

  5. It is impossible for this project to NOT Cost us a dime, unless it is being paid for by an endowment or a large, large gift!

  6. In a 3rd response to Ms. Bonsignore
    Next steps for residents:
    1. Attend the Parks & Rec Subcommittee meetings. They too are publicly noticed.
    2. Parents of our 1,800 students, and/or participate (or want to participate) in youth sports such as lacrosse, soccer, baseball, softball or football, please contact those organizations and participate as they too are part of this proposal.
    1. The targeted grants by law can only be used for sports infrastructure; bring it here & lift our playing fields out of the Middle Ages.

  7. In a 2nd response to Ms. Bonsignore
    7. “Modern” artificial turf is based on non-toxic components. Technology also provides designs that mitigate heat; including special cooling sub-base materials beneath the turf and hollow turf fibers that collect dew and slowly release moisture.
    8. The proposal is for low impact re-landscaping of existing playing fields.
    9. By law, the Planning Group meeting was noticed in newspapers, at public places, by the County, and by great Alpine Community Network. When asked, certain folks at the meeting said they “do not read the papers or use visit online social media”.

  8. In a 1st response to Ms. Bonsignore:
    1. None of the playing fields are used for parking.
    2. There is no intention for shot put, discus. javelin, etc.
    3. Footwear is required and provided by all regulated youth sports groups.
    4. The entire sports playing area is secured by fenced and gating.
    5. A non-profit charity will be set-up to manage the fields.
    6. Weed abatement from wind-blown seeds is a hypothetical. The proposal calls for scheduled professional maintenance by professionals.

  9. How about a regulation length track? Not all kids will be able to make it onto the high school baseball, football and soccer teams. All are welcome on the cross country and track teams. Most people probably don’t realize that the middle school track is short.

  10. I was at the June 27 ACPG meeting and the quote to supply natural turf ( real grass which is not carcinogenic) was approximately half the cost of artificial turf (including the irrigation installation) and the official speaker from Padre Dam at that meeting indicated the advent of abundant recycled water coming online to Alpine very soon. Lets protect our children’s HEALTH.

  11. i like the comment mr Barnett says and look it wont cost u a dime….. really how is that??? is it free? u going to wave a magic wand and POOF all this is free…why is it that here in alpine people always want to have something more that wasn’t here when they moved here….we want a HS well wasn’t here when u moved u knew that and if it was that much an issue why did u come here???….then there is the issues of not having enough or big enough park lands… well you knew that when u moved here…..see my point…. APG is constantly trying to get things THEY want regardless of the impact to surrounding property owners…..its happened over and over again….just like the impack of wrights field on my property…..think it would be nice in the APG had term limits…..that way we could hve new fresh ideas instead of same ol same ol ……

  12. Hi Mike – George Barnett from Alpine education foundation just posted additional information in the original post addressing that very question…. it is very informative! The money doesnt come from either – You can go back to the original post and scroll toward the bottom and you will see it. here is a direct link: https://alpinecommunitynetwork.com/2017/07/aef-proposes-9-acre-professional-sports-complex-at-joan-macqueen-middle-school/#comment-52999

  13. Hi Everyone! Thanks so much for your comments! Please note that George Barnett of Alpine Education Foundation has posted additional info in this post in response to your comments. He tried to comment in the comments section but his post was too long and the system wouldnt accept it. So I added his comment to the original post at the bottom. Please go and read it here: https://alpinecommunitynetwork.com/2017/07/aef-proposes-9-acre-professional-sports-complex-at-joan-macqueen-middle-school/

  14. Alpine’s current turf fields do not use “ground up tire rubber” we use brand new purpose made product. Our sports fields at all the schools need drastic improvements to continue to provide Alpine with a cutting edge environment to keep our kids happy and healthy.

  15. Everyone speaks of a high school but if you built a high school your children wouldn’t want to go there. All the competing and successful sports programs are at other schools. Which in return would mean that your children would not be noticed in high school sports seasons in an Alpine HS because the lack of ability and competiveness wouldn’t be there to give them a chance for college scholarships unless they played club or travel ball.

    This is coming from someone who just graduated from Granite Hills as a dual sports athlete. An Alpine HS would not provide a large enough pull to develop quality sports team that attract college scouts.

    Also the schools around Grossmont District could far use much more upkeep to provide better teaching ratios, campuses, resources, and quality education.

    I grew up with the peer who should’ve been then ones to attend the HS when it was funded for and we are all so thankful we never had to attend a HS in Alpine.

  16. Some artificial fields aren’t holding up and schools have sued when a company wouldn’t replace fields under warranty. We’re working on a story but meanwhile check Voice of San Diego. Also it is true there are some health concerns.

  17. I’d rather drive to Lakeside to play a sport once a week and have a high school to go to daily, but that’s just me.

  18. Artificial Turf is a cocktail of harmful chemicals for our kids. Children are the most vulnerable to toxic threats. Playing on ground up tires- crumb rubber- PAHs VOC’s , heavy metals, skin contact- ingestion- breathing in vapors – carcinogens. Cluster cancers in soccer teens – blood cancers- leukemia- lymphoma-
    Unsafe temperatures up to 200′ on a 98′ day.
    Its obscene so little research has been done. This multibillion dollar industry is conducting an industrial scale experiment on our kids.
    It’s a scandal.

  19. Thats looks really nice! Where is the high school i paid gor TWICE?

  20. Seems like some of the other schools in the district could use that money in a more useful way.

  21. I wish they would invest this money into a HS for our students…why do we need a sports complex when we have 1 middle school and three elementary schools, but then send our children away from Alpine to attend HS. We moved here for the schools. IF we had a HS we could use those fields. Makes entirely no sense.

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