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Thank you Tom Morgan! Children’s Pool Walk project reaches $250,000 fundraising goal

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La Jolla Parks and Beaches chair Dan Allen hands a certificate of appreciation to Tom Morgan for his gift of $200,000 as project organizers Phyllis Minick and Melinda Merryweather look on. Ashley Mackin photos
La Jolla Parks and Beaches chair Dan Allen hands a certificate of appreciation to Tom Morgan for his gift of $200,000 as project organizers Phyllis Minick and Melinda Merryweather look on. Ashley Mackin photos

By Ashley Mackin

La Jolla Parks and Beaches members truly have something to give thanks for this season, as do all La Jollans who enjoy visits to La Jolla Children’s Pool.
Tom Morgan with a certificate of appreciation for his $200,000 donation to the project.
Tom Morgan with a certificate of appreciation for his $200,000 donation to the project.

Last week La Jolla resident Tom Morgan made a promised donation of $200,000 to the Children’s Pool Walk project (formerly the Children’s Pool Walkway Beautification project), increasing total donations to $250,000, the goal needed to move the project forward.

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Plans call for the widening of the Children’s Pool walkway, adding an overlook to the gazebo, building new seating and replacing old planters with new ones to cover crumbling walls.

A La Jolla resident, Morgan said he frequently walks near the Children’s Pool and noticed the new lifeguard tower under construction. He agreed with others that it was appropriate to do the proposed sidewalk beautification project at the same time.

“I wanted to help it reach completion so we can all enjoy it,” he said.

Morgan moved to La Jolla 10 years ago, and has a background in real estate and banking. Project organizer Phyllis Minick said she submitted a proposal to the city to install a plaque thanking Morgan and other major donors for their gifts, including the La Jolla Kiwanis and La Jolla Rotary clubs.

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Now that they have met their tentative fundraising goal, Minick said the La Jolla Parks and Beaches group hopes to piggyback the beautification project to the ongoing construction of the Children’s Pool lifeguard tower. “If we coordinate with city engineers, we would be able to take advantage of their (construction workers) here,” she said. “There would be one closure here instead of two and the cost would be roughly half of what it would be if we do the sidewalk separately.”

Melinda Merryweather and Phyllis Minick
Melinda Merryweather and Phyllis Minick

However, with the construction of the tower on pause due to the upcoming harbor seal pupping season (Dec. 15-May 15), they are unsure when sidewalk construction could actually begin.

Landscape architect Jim Neri provided the $250,000 estimate, as well as the original sketches for the project. He said once all the promised dollars are actually in hand, formal construction documents can be drawn up and submitted to the city. Once the city reviews the documents, they can be released to contractors for bids on the project.

Neri provided the cost estimate three years ago, so there is a possibility that the pricetag could be higher. Minick said fundraising would continue to account for any cost overruns.

But overall, organizers are “thrilled,” including supporter Melinda Merryweather, a member of La Jolla Parks and Beaches. “We’re striving for a very natural environment for people to enjoy it,” she said.

Before they joined forces on this project (or were even acquainted), Minick and Merryweather had phone numbers just one digit apart, and were constantly getting each other’s calls. “It’s been my privilege (and fate) to share a phone number with her,” Minick joked at a recent La Jolla Parks and Beaches meeting.