Making it Better: Children’s Pool beautification project gets the go-ahead from La Jollans

By Dave Schwab

The easy part for the proposed Children’s Pool Walkway beautification project is over — getting community approval for the plan. That was accomplished by unanimous consent of La Jolla Community Planning Association (LJCPA) at its March 1 meeting.

Now comes the hard part — finding the money for walkway improvements.

Those improvements are to be done adjacent to, and concurrent with, replacement of Children’s Pool’s Lifeguard Tower, which will begin in May after the end of seal pupping season at the pool.

Landscape architect Jim Neri, who’s done a landscape concept plan for the revitalized walkway, noted at the meeting that there’s a long way to go in raising the cash to execute the plan.

“We need about $250,000,” he said. “Because the lifeguard tower includes a portion of the walkway to be improved, we have $10,000 (from the city), seed money for this project.”

La Jollan Phyllis Minick, who’s spearheaded the walkway beautification from the start, has a plan for raising the other $240,000, which includes a “best-case” scenario. “I would hope we could find somebody locally, one person (not necessarily a La Jollan because the broader population of San Diego uses this area as do visitors from all over the world) who could support the entire project,” she said.

Short of that, Minick is working on Plan B.

“Second is the possibility of a fundraising event and I’m inquiring into several,” she said. “Third is grant-proposal writing. We’ll appeal to local foundations as well as national ones that offer opportunities for beautification projects.”

Neri said a plaque or some other form of name recognition will be worked out and offered as incentive for a walkway beautification donor to step forward.

Jihad Sleiman, city project manager for the Children’s Pool Lifeguard Tower, said the city and walkway beautification projects, though separate, are “working together closely on coordinating colors, benches and plantings, as well as landscape and hardscape features.”

He said the new lifeguard tower is “design-build,” which means, “we’re going to design it and construct it at the same time. The ugly scaffolding and old lifeguard tower will come down first before anything is built.

“We hope, in May, to start major construction and it should take eight months to a year to finish,” Sleiman said. Completion is scheduled for summer 2013.

Neri said he and others would very much like walkway beautification to become an amendment to the Children’s Pool lifeguard tower project.

“Now that the project has been conceptually approved, the next step will be for me to do construction drawings,” Neri said. “The aim of redeveloping the walkway to go along with the new lifeguard tower, is to make it a better place to walk, rehabilitating the old and tired site by replacing aging concrete and planters that don’t make sense around this brand new icon.”

La Jolla Children’s Poo

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Walkway Beautification

What: Improvements to Coast Boulevard at La Jolla Children's Pool

Size: Total improved area is 11,610 square feet; pathway is just under 10,000 square feet (475 linear feet); planting area is 1,703 square feet.

Timeline: The City of San Diego plans demolition of the lifeguard station in mid-May; the site will be “shovel ready” for rebuilding in September. Construction costs can be saved by coordinating the sidewalk rebuilding with the lifeguard station work.

Estimated cost: $250,000

Funds so far: $10,000 (from the city)

To donate funds:  ???????????

Notable improvements:

• Turnout by The Belvedere added to enlarge viewing space

• Drought- and squirrel-resistant planters along the North wall to deter climbers from entering the crumbling bluff

• Teardrop-shaped seating walls useable from both sides

• Moving vendor tables out of the lifeguards’ route to their emergency vehicles

• Keeping tables where the plaza is wide enough to accommodate crowds

•  Making all walkways at least the required minimum width of  8 feet.

Completion date: Summer 2013.

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