Scripps Park Picnic Grove unveiling planned for Dec. 16

This former picnic area in La Jolla's Scripps Park is being renovated into a picnic grove.

‘We are very much on schedule, on budget, on time,’ La Jolla Parks & Beaches President Bob Evans says.


After an undulating cycle of slow fundraising and behind-the-scenes work, followed by quick construction and a brief waiting period, the renovated Scripps Park Picnic Grove is scheduled to open next week.

The project has been shepherded by the La Jolla Parks & Beaches group, specifically trustee Alexandra Corsi, since March 2021. It involves relocating tables, improving access for people with disabilities, replacing a dying tree and layering the ground cover with a paving material called GraniteCrete.

Construction started in September, and the GraniteCrete was installed Nov. 8. LJP&B President Bob Evans said the ground cover needs 30 days to set, “so you may not have seen much activity there.” However, the curing period is nearly complete, he said.

The board plans one last construction meeting with contractors and San Diego city representatives, and if everything is approved, the unveiling will take place around 9 a.m. Friday, Dec. 16.

“We are very much on schedule, on budget, on time,” Evans said. “It’s turning out really well.”

LJP&B trustee Patrick Ahern applauded the use of GraniteCrete because it has the same texture as decomposed granite but is “porous and light-colored” and “doesn’t create runoff or erode at the same rate” as dirt or other paving materials.

“We’re going to see this [used] a lot going forward,” Ahern said.

Other board members congratulated Evans, Corsi and the Malk family, who provided early funding for the project, for bringing it to completion. The site was originally intended to be named the Selma Malk Picnic Grove in honor of the late longtime resident of La Jolla’s La Valencia Hotel. Now, a plaque honoring Malk will be placed at the site.

Brian and Nancy Malk, Jerry and Ann Lipschitz, Ann Dynes, Alexandra Corsi and Bob Evans stand at Scripps Park.
Brian and Nancy Malk, Jerry and Ann Lipschitz, Ann Dynes, Alexandra Corsi and Bob Evans stand at Scripps Park near the La Valencia Hotel, where Selma Malk lived for 32 years. The park’s new picnic grove will have a plaque honoring Malk, who died in 2017.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

At a work launch ceremony Sept. 29, San Diego City Councilman Joe LaCava, whose District 1 includes La Jolla, said the project is “a fitting tribute” to Malk that La Jollans, San Diegans and tourists can enjoy once it is completed. He said he is thankful for the Malk family’s philanthropy and the collaboration between La Jolla Parks & Beaches and the city Department of Parks & Recreation to “bring the magic to make La Jolla a better place for everybody.”

Malk’s daughter, Ann Lipschitz, said “this is the most special moment for me. My mother … would be so happy.”

Malk lived at the La Valencia for 32 years and volunteered at La Jolla’s Birch Aquarium and Athenaeum Music & Arts Library and the Mingei International Museum in San Diego’s Balboa Park. She died in La Jolla in 2017 at age 103.

At the onset, a conceptual plan was drafted and meetings were held with city staff to obtain a right-of-entry permit and make sure the project was in line with the city’s terms and within budget. The project, with an initial price tag of $25,000, was expected to be finished in fall 2021.

“Back then, I said that was not accurate and knew it was not going to happen,” Corsi said previously, citing increases in prevailing wages and the cost of supplies.

More than $66,000 was raised for the project from private donors. Parks & Beaches has various accounts for the projects it shepherds, and earlier this year, the board unanimously supported transferring $5,000 from the account for the Scripps Park Pavilion restroom facility (which has more than $11,000) to the picnic grove account to cover any “unforeseen circumstances.”

Because the pavilion project has been completed and is now under the auspices of the city, any future work on it will be funded by the city. ◆