La Jolla rec board baffled by shade structure schedule

Because of the lack of shade, some Rec Center goers elect to bring umbrellas to the 615 Prospect St. facility.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

Whether or not the La Jolla Rec Center will get its long-sought shade structures by this summer remains to be seen, following a meeting with San Diego Department of Park & Rec district manager Marilyn Stern. And to ensure the shade sails are what the board is expecting — whenever they are installed — the board is creating a de facto insurance policy.

La Jolla Park & Rec, Inc. (LJPR) has been advocating for shade sails since last year at the request of patrons. In researching various vendors, the cost for shade was quoted as almost $22,000. The board voted to fund the structures in December 2017. The areas where the board would like to see the shade structures installed are over the swing sets, the picnic tables by the basketball courts, and the “big kid lot” nearby.

Although willing to start right away to make sure there’s shade in the hot months of summer, the board was encouraged to wait until July 1 to begin the installation by City staff. During the May LJPR meeting, Stern explained if the Rec Council 501(c)3 non-profit board was paying for shade sails, it would require a right-of-entry permit, which takes 60 days to acquire. However, with July 1 marking the beginning of the City’s fiscal year, the board could transfer the money to the City and have the City execute the installation without a right-of-entry permit.

“Once it hits July 1, the City will just do it,” Stern said in May.

However, back-peddling on the plan, Stern said at the board’s June 27 meeting: “We do not want to do any work in the summertime, there are just too many people around. The conversation is to start in the fall.”

Stern alleged it was LJPR chair Mary Coakley-Munk’s idea (Munk was not at the meeting) to wait until the fall, but in an e-mail to the Light, Coakley-Munk said, that was “absolutely not” true.

“I think the shade structures should already be up,” Coakley-Munk wrote. “Summer is the most important time.”

At the meeting, LJPR trustee Jill Peters similarly opined: “We need the shade structures as soon as possible.”

Responding, Stern said: “If the shade structures are a priority for you, I will get going as soon as the money is transferred. That would be the quickest way. If the money is transferred in July, I can process the purchase order and start right away.”

Because the item was not publicly noticed on the agenda, the board could not vote during its regular meeting to authorize the transfer. However, the Rec Center’s 501(c)3 non-profit board planned to hold a special meeting in early July to discuss it and vote.

But because of the City’s reputation for having the projects it manages delayed and thereby more expensive (examples include but are not limited to the construction of La Jolla’s lifeguard towers) the board is also considering a written contract before it transfers the money.

“This transfer of $22,000 is going to be a big ticket item and a practice run for the huge ticket item (the multi-million dollar playground renovation),” said LJPR vice-chair Dan McCandless.

“If they botch this, it’s a real second thought about the rest of it. We can write a thorough letter of intent that outlines who they can use (because the Rec Center board has a quote and pre-existing agreement with a vendor), and other terms, with signature lines on it. We can say that upon execution and the City signing it, we would transfer the money within a certain amount of time. Such a letter would hold them accountable.”

In other Park & Rec news:

Board ‘considering alternatives’ to garage: Through its “visioning committee,” the LJPR board has been managing the planned playground renovation, and working with contractor Tom Grunow in his ongoing plan to “green up” La Jolla’s Cultural Zone and build an parking structure under the Rec Center. In May, Grunow hosted a charrette about the effort.

Visioning committee co-chair Peters said: “We are still taking in information obtained at the charrette to develop a plan to enhance the appearance of the area. From the charrette, the time, expense and logistical challenges a garage would require became clearer and our plan is evolving as we consider alternatives to the garage structure. We’re considering all our options.”

Peters said the board is not stopping its effort to redevelop the playground, but is looking to see if or how the two projects can work together: “We would like to make sure the Rec Center is taken care of and we make the best use of it, whether or not the parking structure will be there. If we decide a garage is a good idea, and we would be able to get through the process in enough time, we could make those two work together. We want make sure we aren’t waiting for that project to go ahead.”

Co-chair Alexis McCandless said they have talked about having “multiple” charrettes on the playground itself.

Electrical work starts, gets delayed: An electrical project to install new PVC conduits and replace existing switchboard with a new switchboard located in the Rec Center basement started in early June, but Stern said due to some “setbacks,” construction will take longer than anticipated.

The plan is to have the installation completed ahead of the July 28 Kiwanis Club of La Jolla Pancake Breakfast, however, due to the setbacks, Stern said, “crews have been instructed to shut down all construction two days before the pancake breakfast so there is nothing in the way, and then start up after.”

The pancake breakfast is on the Rec Center grounds, La Jolla Rec Center director Nicole Otjens said average attendance throughout the day is about 1,000 people. The event features pony rides, breakfast, balloon artists, bounce houses and more.

New area manager reports: The board was introduced to incoming rec centers area manager Rosalia Castruita, who will replace Tyler Canales, who was recently transferred to the downtown area. “I’m happy to be starting this new assignment in the beach area, I plan to attend local events … and support rec centers having an advisory board because you are the eyes and ears of the community,” she said.

Castruita manages the Pacific Beach, La Jolla and Santa Clara areas.

La Jolla Park & Rec, Inc. next meets 5 p.m. Wednesday, July 25 at the Rec Center, 615 Prospect St.