Partner in projects: La Jolla Parks & Beaches president reflects on expiring tenure as board preps for 2021
For the four years of her presidency of La Jolla Parks & Beaches, local resident Ann Dynes has viewed the board as a vehicle to get projects done. Some were big multiyear projects; others were small but impactful to nearby residents. One or two were executed on an emergency basis. Many were shepherded by members of the board; some were carried out by community volunteers with the board’s help.
This month, Dynes’ time as LJP&B president will end, but she said the work will continue with her successor. Board member Claudia Baranowski is poised to take the reins as president. An election committee nominated her, and there were no other candidates. The position will be formally filled at the board’s January meeting.
“We have developed a reputation for being a place to go when someone wants to get something done in a park or beach,” Dynes said. “We’ve developed some energy around seeing a problem and bringing people together to find a solution.”
But it can’t be done without volunteers willing to lead the projects, she said. “We don’t exist without the volunteers. We have no paid staff. It’s great that people have the time and willingness to do this.”
Among the bigger projects she noted, done under the auspices of LJP&B, are:
- The 2018 completion of the Children’s Pool Plaza, which took eight years and involved removing some landscaping, replacing and expanding the sidewalk to improve pedestrian flow, and adding sitting walls and bike racks to the area overlooking the Children’s Pool at 850 Coast Blvd.
- Construction of the new Scripps Park Pavilion restroom facility, which is now underway. The city of San Diego provides updates at LJP&B meetings. The new facility will have more single-stall unisex toilets, benches, outdoor showers, disabled-accessible toilets and indoor showers, and storage for beach equipment. The project is expected to be completed in the summer.
The first project was managed by current board member Phyllis Minick and the second by former member Judy Adams Halter.
“These are fabulous volunteers that have accomplished some great projects working with the city,” Dynes said.
Fostering a positive relationship with the right city departments has been key, she added.
“We have a really great relationship with the city, in my opinion. They value that we want to help,” Dynes said. “Most people swear at the city when they talk about the inadequacy of city resources and facilities; they get mad. They communicate poorly with city employees. So I feel under my watch, we have strengthened the sense that city employees are respected. They appreciate that we work respectfully with them to get stuff done. Sometimes it’s small things, but they affect the aesthetics of our neighborhood.”
With that relationship, Dynes said, the board is able to support the efforts of others.
A case in point is a project to replace a weathered flagpole at Union Circle Park (at the center of Park Row) that was completed in 2019. Nearby residents partnered with the La Jolla Historical Society and LJP&B to restore the flagpole and refurbish a plaque on it.
“All La Jolla Parks & Beaches had to do was file the right-of-entry permit,” Dynes said. “And I think our positive relationship with the parks department supervisor for that area made the whole thing go a lot smoother.”
Similarly, LJP&B files right-of-entry permits to clean up the Fay Avenue Bike Path under the leadership of volunteer Debbie Adams, who is not on the board.
Projects completed on an emergency basis included the Horseshoe Beach staircase replacement. In 2015, an El Niño storm destroyed the stairs leading to an area known as Horseshoe Beach, and the access to that staircase from Coast Boulevard was closed. With the leadership of current LJP&B member Patrick Ahern and former member Nancy Linck, the group partnered with the city to declare the lack of access an emergency and find funding to replace the stairs. The job was done in summer 2017.
Some projects are smaller, more maintenance-based, such as refurbishing benches along the coastal overlooks, replacing railings that have deteriorated and creating an inventory of the condition of all coastal overlooks in La Jolla to submit to the city.
“It’s all about the volunteerism that we generate,” Dynes said. “It’s great to finish this project and that project, but I feel good about the fact that we have energized our neighborhood and gotten people to realize [that] when they pay attention, they get something done.”
Baranowski said finding “the common denominator” has enabled neighborhood groups to “not duplicate efforts but come together to have a stronger voice.”
She said she plans to continue that if elected board president at the next meeting.
Further, Baranowski said, she would like to continue an effort that started in 2020 to draft a board statement of values.
The idea to draft the statement followed controversial comments that board members Marie Hunrichs and Mary Ellen Morgan made about the Black Lives Matter movement and a city decision not to remove chalk art drawn in support of the movement. Some community members called for the pair’s removal from the board. The group’s bylaws do not have a mechanism to remove members for such comments, but the statement of values could provide one.
“The personality of LJP&B during my tenure on the board has been that people go on to represent a personal point of view — pro-seals, anti-seals, for example — and I hope we take the time moving forward to better reinforce our responsibility to represent and listen to diverse points of view,” Dynes said. “We need to be better prepared to listen and consider diverse points of view.”
Baranowski said she sees the next year as one of “transition” but would like to continue the momentum that Dynes has started.
“We can get involved and intimate with these projects because of our relationship with the city,” Baranowski said. “We don’t want to come off like we are whining … and we realize the city only has X amount of dollars. But La Jolla is a tourist destination, so what we can do in our own backyard ... while it certainly benefits us, and we are very lucky for that, for the people that fly and travel and visit here, it benefits their experience as well.”
La Jolla Parks & Beaches next meets at 4 p.m. Monday, Jan. 25, online. Learn more at lajollaparksbeaches.org. ◆
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