Heritage County Park
Heritage County Park, located in Old Town. Photo via @ThepaleUsher Twitter

The county Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Wednesday in favor of improvements to parks in a historic, popular San Diego tourist spot and the Tijuana River Valley.

The board agreed to solicit bids to develop and operate a recreational complex in the Tijuana River Valley Regional Park in the South Bay region, and make upgrades to Heritage County Park, located in Old Town.

Supervisor Nora Vargas, in whose district the Tijuana park is located, said such a facility would highlight youth and adult sports.

“Obviously, this is just the start, and it would be a long process where the community would be involved,” according to Vargas’ office.

Vargas said Wednesday that for years, residents who play baseball at the park would have to use a gas station bathroom due to a lack of facilities.

“We need to elevate investing in this area,” Vargas said, adding that a vacant 64-acre lot located in the park’s northeast corner offers an expansion opportunity.

No project cost estimate was available.

The Old Town project involves renovating five Victorian-era structures into overnight accommodations, featuring up to 23 guest rooms, a lobby, community rooms and public restrooms.

According to information on the county agenda, the outdoor park would feature improved landscaping, walking paths, interpretive signs, an outdoor classroom and a conference center.

The project is estimated to cost $13 million. The county’s current budget includes $8 million for the project, while the state Parks and Recreation Department will provide a $5 million grant.

According to the county, project construction will begin next spring, with completion by early to mid-2024.

Board Chairman Nathan Fletcher, whose district includes the popular Old Town, said Heritage Park is unique and home to a synagogue, historical burial plots, and an “incredible outdoor space” right in Old Town. Opening up the Victorian homes will also allow more public participation, Fletcher added.

During a public comment period, two South Bay residents voiced their support for an expanded Tijuana River park.

Norma Chavez-Peterson, who described herself as a soccer mom and lifelong South Bay resident, said she knows first-hand about the lack of green space for recreation in her region.

Chavez-Peterson said park upgrades will benefit the entire county. She added that as a member of Rebels Soccer Club, she and the club during the COVID-19 pandemic had to drive to the community of Jamul or the Clairemont neighborhood just to practice.

Chavez-Peterson said she looks forward to the county designing “something that’s beautiful” for families to enjoy.

Supervisor Jim Desmond was absent Wednesday, and his office didn’t provide a formal reason. Wednesday’s regular meeting, which focuses on land-use and environmental issues, was the last for 2022.

City News Service contributed to this article.