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Playground work is moving ahead

Replacing the playground equipment at La Jolla Shores Kellogg Park could start as early as March, said Mary Coakley, who is heading up the effort.

“We are working with the city on the … permit that gives our contractors the ability to go into the playground and install the equipment,” she said last week.

The project will be done in two phases, starting with installation of the upgraded equipment and $20,000 worth of higher-grade sand.

The second will be creation of a bronze bust of J.J., the gray whale saved by the staff at Sea World who nursed the mammal back to health and returned it to the wild.

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Jim Heaton, La Jolla Shores Association chair, said famed wildlife artist and sculptor Robert Wyland has agreed to donate his services to create J.J.

Move over dolphins

“The city has given us notice that the two dolphins in Kellogg Park are going to be removed because they are deteriorating from the inside out and can no longer be repaired,” Heaton said. “J.J. is going to be moved onto the site to replace the two dolphins where they are.”

The life-size sculpture is going to be huge and heavy. It’s also going to run about $80,000 in foundry costs to create, Heaton said.

Much of that money is included in what has been raised so far, but another $25,000 to $30,000 is still needed to cover all of it.

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“We’re very proud of what we’re doing for the people of San Diego and La Jolla,” he said. “I hope we can get this done before next summer.”

Special fund

Heaton added that more than 99 percent of private funding donated by community members to the playground project has already been collected and deposited in a nonprofit fund held by La Jolla Town Council earmarked for Kellogg Playground. “There is no commingling of funds between The Map and the playground equipment,” he added.

Playground equipment was removed from the popular park last May because it was in a state of disrepair and the city didn’t have the money to replace it.

Saluting donors

The community advisory group, which has been working on getting the new equipment and working with the city so they can retain control over design and installation, recently named the key donors: Rise Johnson, Patrick and Virginia Daniels, Jeff and Deni Jacobs, and Jim and Jennifer Kelly.

Patrick Daniels noted in a recent e-mail, “Lots of people in La Jolla want to help take care of our city and make it more beautiful, but it takes a leader like Mary Coakley to get us organized and focus our efforts. None of this would have gotten done without her.”