Revised La Jolla Rec Center plan does not include a garage; Charrette takes Cultural Zone proponents on new path


Opinion / Guest Commentary / Our Readers Write:

As a long time community volunteer, I have been concerned about the state of the La Jolla Cultural Zone’s appearance. Last fall, I undertook an effort to “green up” and make the area more “pedestrian friendly,” like a park. This plan would entail a net loss of parking spaces to make way for some plantings and for some hardscape changes.

To overcome this, I began looking at the idea of having a one-story underground parking facility with the new Rec Center playground built above it, as did the adjacent site at The Bishop’s School with its football field. The garage would be a means to an end with the main goal of enhancing the La Jolla Cultural Zone. It would also add a net 100 new parking places. Over the past eight months, a plan began to develop.

After gaining a great deal of support for the endeavor from planning groups and from the La Jolla Cultural Zone constituents, a three-day charrette was held at the Rec Center to gain the joint wisdom and experience from approximately 50 local architects, planning volunteers and constituents. From the charrette, more insight into the time, expense and logistical challenges that a garage would require became clearer.

Recently, a different version of the plan that does not include the garage has emerged. I have been working and meeting with constituents on this revised plan for the past few weeks.

A few weeks ago, when I heard about Kevin Kinsella’s letter, I notified him of this change in design in hopes he would retract his letter.

I will continue to work on the plan to enhance the La Jolla Cultural Zone and to work with the Rec Center on their exciting plans to update their facility.

I’m hopeful that my friend Kevin Kinsella will be pleased with this change and support the updated version. I look forward to meeting with him and to returning back to the many constituents whom I have previously met to keep the goals alive for Enhancing the La Jolla Cultural Zone.

I love La Jolla and am motivated to make its Cultural Zone be something that Ellen Browning Scripps would be proud of us for — being good custodians of her legacy.

— Tom Grunow grew up in Connecticut and earned a civil engineering degree with a major in construction management from Drexel University. In 1975, Grunow Construction was established as re-modeler and spec home builder in Connecticut. In 1986, Tom and his wife Alanna moved to La Jolla to raise their family. He has held his General Contractors license in California since 1988.

Grunow was founding board president of Winston School, has served as the head of the building committee and president of the La Jolla Historical Society, and donates his time to St. James by the Sea, where he has been an usher and head of the building committee for several years. He is also Junior Warden on the Vestry.