Parks & Beaches approves plans to build replacement Windansea belvedere

A pad on Neptune Place near Rosemont Street is pictured in 2018 where a removed belvedere may have once stood.
A pad on Neptune Place near Rosemont Street is pictured in 2018 where a removed belvedere (shade structure) may have once stood.

The La Jolla Parks & Beaches advisory group approved design plans this week for a replacement belvedere (aka a gazebo) at Windansea Beach as part of a broader improvement plan for the area. The original structure was torn down in 1982 in what was reported to be an act of vandalism.

Friends of Windansea is spearheading and funding the project.

For the record:

5:10 p.m. June 11, 2020This article originally reported the date of the next La Jolla Parks & Beaches meeting incorrectly. It will be held at 4 p.m. Monday, June 29.

“I think it’s a beautiful thing to bring back a La Jolla treasure,” said FOW and La Jolla Parks & Beaches member Melinda Merryweather. “It was the only bit of shade for that area.”

FOW member and landscape architect Jim Neri presented the concept to the board in December 2018 for an endorsement and got the formal approval with a unanimous vote this month. He said FOW decided to incorporate the belvedere replacement into a broader project that will be presented to the city of San Diego.

“[FOW] formed in 1997 to take care of some of the erosion at Windansea and raised $600,000 to make improvements to the beach, such as to the stairs and parking lot. Now the charge is to protect the beach from further erosion … so we are encouraging people to use the current trails rather than make new ones,” he said.

Proposed improvements include better path delineation, repairs to the stairs and post-and-chain barriers, and construction of the belvedere.

Jim Neri presents plans to replace a belvedere at Windansea Beach during a La Jolla Parks & Beaches meeting in December 2018.
Jim Neri, a landscape architect and Friends of Windansea member, presents plans to replace a belvedere at Windansea Beach during a La Jolla Parks & Beaches meeting in December 2018.

Neri said he would proceed to the California Coastal Commission.

“As soon as the CCC approves, we will turn in construction documents to the city of San Diego building department, at which point the work would be put out to bid and start construction,” he said. “I expect that will take one to two years.”

The belvedere would be similar to the ones that line the coast up to the Children’s Pool, Neri said, adding that the structures are “part of La Jolla’s charm.” It would be just over 9 feet tall and constructed slightly downslope to reduce the visual impact.

“It will be a fairly small structure, all wood, painted green,” Neri said. “We’re replacing it in kind, with very few modifications for today’s accessibility, including shortening the L-shaped bench, providing a truncated seat for a wheelchair, and a slightly widened opening to get in. Other than that, it will be an exact replica of what was there.”

The previous belvedere is believed to have been removed by a nearby resident. A short article in the La Jolla Light on Oct. 7, 1982, reported it as “an act of vandalism.” It reads: “Police said it appeared that chains attached to a vehicle were used to haul down the public structure. The shack was popular with beach visitors who could sit inside and enjoy the scenic views. However, some nearby residents say the shack was a nuisance and was troublesome for the neighborhood.”

At the time, the article states, lifeguards said there were plans for replacement, subject to funding availability.

Other Parks & Beaches news

Children’s Pool update: Two projects for La Jolla’s Children’s Pool are continuing on parallel paths: getting the landmark listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and rehabilitating it in a way that preserves its aesthetics and safe usability.

The Children’s Pool, funded by La Jolla benefactor Ellen Browning Scripps, was built at 850 Coast Blvd. by way of a breakwater and stairs and opened in 1931 to provide a wave-free shoreline for children.

Should the wall be historically designated, it could be rehabilitated in a way that keeps it looking as it does now, but with updated safety elements.

“They are separate tracks but at some point they have to join … so while we are working on the historic designation, we can also work on contracting to find out the condition of the wall,” community volunteer Diane Kane said. “That will require some engineering, some testing, some pre-contract assessment to figure out what needs to be done, the scope of work, how much it is going to cost and what permit we will need. Then we will need to get on some sort of calendar to determine the best time to do this. … It’s going to be complex, so we are trying to think long-term.”

Kane has been working with engineer Matt Mangano, who said: “The surfaces on the concrete have deteriorated and we would not call it technically usable shape. The guardrails have rusted as well. We are looking at how we can rehabilitate the wall to its original glory and look at it from a 50- and 100-year perspective. We want to preserve its integrity both structurally and aesthetically.”

Bird Rock joint-use park: Steve Hadley, representing the office of San Diego City Council President Pro Tem Barbara Bry, said the joint-use park on the Bird Rock Elementary School campus is open.

“It is the only one of the 90 joint-use parks that is open at this point, so we’re not bragging about this around town, but there was quite a bit of wrangling between the city and the school district and the county involved,” he said. “The pandemic is requiring certain monitoring and serving of parks, and the city and the school district are sharing that responsibility.”

Next meeting: La Jolla Parks & Beaches will hold its next meeting at 4 p.m. Monday, June 29. The plan is to hold the meeting via Zoom, or at least make online participation an option. Learn more at ◆