Village’s worn wood benches to get a fresh look

Worn wood benches on La Jolla's main streets will be refurbished in coming weeks.
Worn wood benches on La Jolla’s main streets will be refurbished in coming weeks.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

About 30 tired-looking, worn-out benches along La Jolla’s main streets will get some TLC in coming weeks as part of an Enhance La Jolla project to spruce up The Village.

Memorial benches people purchased with plaques to honor loved ones along Girard Avenue, Prospect Street, Wall Street and others will be refurbished and the wood brushed with an oil-based treatment to breathe new life into them.

Enhance La Jolla administers The Village’s Maintenance Assessment District with funds generated through property assessments for ongoing efforts including landscape maintenance, street and sidewalk cleaning, litter and graffiti abatement and additional trash collection. Enhance La Jolla also can use private donations to implement projects in public areas.

MAD manager John Unbewust said he sees the bench refurbishment as a maintenance project.

Although the contract is still being finalized, a local vendor will execute the work, he said.

“The vendor is going to remove the wood, take the slats to their shop, sand them down to bare wood and put a couple coats of this treatment that is more compatible for long-term use,” Unbewust said. “Then they will bring them back, reinstall them and put the plaques back if they have plaques.”

Benches such as this one will have the wood slats sanded down and brushed with an oil-based treatment.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

“Schedule-wise, we hope to have this complete by early summer,” Unbewust said. “I don’t dictate the speed at which this is done, but the vendor has excess capacity right now and there are fewer pedestrians on the streets, so the timing is right to get started. The result will be a better-looking bench that can be reconditioned by adding another layer of this oil-based treatment and keep it looking that way for the next few years.”

He said the Enhance La Jolla board wanted to execute this as an immediate improvement, with funding available this year. It joins two projects that have been completed in The Village recently.

In mid-May, six dog waste stations with bags and a compartment to dispose of them were installed in key locations.

“We were excited to get it going,” Enhance La Jolla President Ed Witt said. “We want to make sure The Village is thought of as a friendly place for dogs to encourage walking, not only for residents but visitors as well. We have pet-friendly hotels, so this will work out quite outstandingly for us. This is just another way we can enhance La Jolla and make it a great place to live, work and play.”

Another project was to repaint trash can lids.

“It seems like a little thing, but we have painted about 50 of them,” Unbewust said. “We painted them in a muted green color because it is a smoother color that is unique to The Village. But the primary reason was to get rid of the rust.”

The short-term projects are being completed while the board works to fund and implement its larger streetscape plan. Priorities include creating community gathering spaces, finding ways to energize streets to bring people to The Village, and making the area more pedestrian-friendly with improved crosswalks, state-of-the-art curb extensions and increased shade areas.

“At this point, the plan is being vetted and there are a number of contributions in the fund already, but it may take a few years for that to get going,” Unbewust said. ◆