La Jolla’s Gillispie School to begin year with new sports field

By Pat Sherman

The Gillispie School’s new “Field of Dreams” for athletic instruction and outdoor classroom activities is nearly complete and will be ready when school resumes for the fall session on Tuesday, Aug. 27, said Gillispie Head of School Alison Fleming.

“It was obviously long in coming, but it just looks beautiful,” said Fleming, who credits school trustee and Building and Grounds Chair Mike Ryan with keeping the project on schedule and seeing it to fruition.

“Because of Mike Ryan it ran, incredibly, like clockwork,” Fleming said. “It really moved along.”

Late last week cement for the sidewalk in front of the field’s barrier wall on Fay Avenue was being re-poured. Evergreen ash trees and other landscaping are being added there this week.

The inside of the wall on Fay Avenue features concrete seating for parents and students that will be padded for safety. Planters on either side will include trees and flowers that can be planted and maintained by students.

Last year the independent learning institution purchased the 7,500 square-foot parcel at 7411 Fay Ave. on which to construct the field, for a little more than $1 million.

A private dedication ceremony for Gillispie School family and friends will be at 5 p.m. Sept. 6, at which time the field will be renamed for a person Fleming said is near and dear to Gillispie parents and administrators.

Upper Girard reconfiguration

In addition, the portion of upper Girard Avenue which fronts The Gillispie School and La Jolla Elementary School will be a little safer when classes resume, thanks to a city traffic-calming measure in the final stages of construction.

To slow traffic along that stretch of Girard, where Fleming said there have been a lot of “near misses,” the city has added a concrete median and narrowed the street to only one lane in either direction.

Ryan said many residents use that stretch of upper Girard as a shortcut to the Muirlands area and WindanSea.

To narrow the street, Ryan said city engineers extended the curb, leaving in its place 12 to 16 feet of concrete between the curb and the sidewalk, where there is typically only six feet.

“We could play half-court basketball out there now,” joked Ryan, who is working with the city to see if some of the concrete can be replaced with low-lying shrubbery or other ground-hugging greenery to soften the visual impact while keeping the view corridor open.

“Hopefully they will acquiesce, but that’s out of our control,” Ryan said. “We will have to eventually live with their decision on that.”

In addition, Fleming said the city would add a traffic calming light to the crosswalk on Girard between Gillispie and La Jolla Elementary.