Gateway median to receive expanded makeover

By Pat Sherman

A dingy, long-neglected median on La Jolla Parkway known as “The Teardrop” is getting a makeover, courtesy of the La Jolla Community Foundation.

Work on the median, which is one of the first things motorists see as they enter La Jolla from Interstate 5 or state Route 52, will cost between $50,000 and $60,000. It is being made possible through a grant from the La Jolla Community Foundation, partly through a contribution from an anonymous donor.

In addition to renovation of the 300-foot median, another 500 feet along the north and south sides of the road will be renovated. The entire project will involve replacing 7,000 square feet of dirt, weeds and trash with decorative, pre-cast concrete cobblestones.

The project was designed by La Jolla-based Island Architects; the work will be completed by Joe Marsh of Point Loma-based Pavers 4 Less.

Tony Crisafi, a founding partner of Island Architects who pulled the permits for the job, said the original scope of the project was expanded to include the north and south sides of the road.

Though there were discussions with members of the La Jolla Shores Association about using natural cobblestones or river rock, Crisafi said the city wouldn’t approve natural rock due to liability issues and the potential for stones to break loose and interfere with traffic.

The foundation and community members decided against landscaping to avoid high maintenance and irrigation costs.

“The idea was to have something that is maintainable,” Crisafi said, noting that the foundation is still seeking donations from private citizens to fund a two-member crew and a truck to keep the median free of trash and automobile detritus.

“It’s going to look a lot better than plastic, dirt and mulch,” Crisafi said.

Charlene Pryor, executive director of the La Jolla Community Foundation, said the delayed work should finally begin sometime this month.

“It’s still quicker than waiting for tax dollars to pay for it,” said Pryor, who hopes the public-private partnership will be the first of the foundation’s revitalization projects that rely on private funding to fill gaps left by a paucity of tax dollars.

“It’s the wave of the future to get some of these things done,” she said.

The La Jolla Community Foundation was able to get the work done at a significantly lower cost than it would have by using tax-funded city contractors. According to Crisafi, the city’s estimate was $564,000 for a landscaped median and $349,000 for the faux cobblestone.

Crisafi said the project is still “a few dollars short” and that last-minute donations from the public are welcome.

To make a contribution to the project, contact Charlene Pryor at charlene@sdfoundation.org or visit sdfoundation.com and click on La Jolla Community Foundation.

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