Group filling financial gaps for the Shores community

In these financially strapped times, the La Jolla Shores Association is leading by example in fundraising to supply much-needed community projects.

“We’re going to have to have more commercial or private funding of amenities or those amenities are going to go away,” Chairman Jim Heaton said during last week’s meeting. “We need to have an ongoing fundraising campaign to support some of the things we’ve taken on in the last couple of years.”

Mary Coakley led the successful drive to create The Map project at Kellogg Park and more recently has been a leader with Friends of Kellogg Park in the drive to replace the park’s playground equipment.

This time she went a step further, suggesting that the community raise money to compensate for proposed budget cuts that could include closing restrooms and removing fire rings.

“If the city is willing to work with us,” Coakley said, “it’s a win-win for everybody. We happen to be fortunate enough to live in a community that can make things happen, even in tough times. What we’re able to do for Kellogg Park really benefits the entire city of San Diego, because it serves the entire city of San Diego.”

Playground progress

A prime example of community involvement is seen in the playground project.

Earlier this year, city crews removed the equipment without notice because it was in a state of disrepair and the city didn’t want to be liable and couldn’t afford to replace it.

At the Nov. 12 meeting, Heaton gave a progress report.

“We have raised enough money to meet the city’s requirement that we have cash in hand to cover the cost of the playground equipment,” he said. “We are not done with fundraising for the totality of the project.”

Heaton said they are still about $20,000 short of meeting their $150,000 goal from local donors to cover the entire cost of the playground project, including its construction.

However, one individual put up the money while the final amount is raised in order to meet the city’s Nov. 4 goal.

“We are going to install the playground equipment ourselves, sometime this spring in March or April, making it a community event, a work weekend,” Heaton said. “That saves us substantial amounts of money.”

The episode with the Shores playground equipment has taught the planning group a lesson, Heaton added.

Lesson Learned

“We learned the hard way that we cannot depend on anybody else funding the long-term care of the playground,” he said. “We are going to create a 501(c)3 (nonprofit) corporation to maintain the playground equipment.”

Also at the meeting Coakley detailed Mayor Jerry Sanders’ proposed park and recreation funding cuts for La Jolla Shores. They include closing down the north-end restroom except during the peak summer season and removing all fire rings.

Greg Salmon, a former lifeguard, said both suggestions are untenable because people will not walk the extra distance to the restrooms at the south end of the Shores beach nor will they abandon barbecues at the beach just because fire rings are no longer there.