Encinitas community members help mosaic project progress

Encinitas community members had a chance Feb. 11 to have their hand in the upcoming ocean-themed mosaic that will be installed at Moonlight Beach’s upcoming new lifeguard tower.Dozens of residents attended the event at Don Myers Stained Glass in Oceanside to help place thousands of glass pieces on the 8-foot-by-15-foot mosaic, which will be installed on an outside wall of Encinitas’ now-under-construction $3 million Marine Safety Center.

The lifeguard tower and the mosaic are expected to be completed in the summer, officials said.

Lisa Shaffer, former Encinitas deputy mayor who was on the council at the time of the tower’s approval in 2013, said she believed the facility would be instrumental to the city.

“When I ran for city council, the previous council had chosen not to fund a new lifeguard tower because they were putting all the money toward the Encinitas Community Park,” she said. “I thought the lifeguard tower was really important because more people interact with the city there than any other place.”

Encinitas broke ground on the new center in November. The former lifeguard tower, originally built by lifeguard staff in 1953, was demolished on Oct. 24.

Former mayor Kristin Gaspar said at the ground-breaking event that an upgrade was long overdue as the Center serves as the headquarters for all Encinitas Lifeguard beach operations and first aid services for city beaches that host more than 3.5 million visitors per year and up to 30,000 in a single weekend during the busy summer months.

The Surfing Madonna Oceans project — which puts on the Surfing Madonna Beach Run annually as part of its mission to help raise money for community efforts — donated the mosaic to the city.

In the end, the piece will end up costing the nonprofit group more than $30,000, said Bob Nichols, president of the Surfing Madonna Oceans Project.

“This is a group effort where everybody can put their mark on this mosaic,” Nichols said. “Everybody can feel some sort of attachment to this piece because it’s a community project.”

The artwork shows layers of the ocean, from fish and animals below up to land at the top.

It is meant to be educational, as well as visually stunning, Nichols said.

“This educates the community on just how fragile our local ecosystem is and how beautiful it is,” he said.

Peggy Sue, the artist who designed the mosaic, said she painted six different scenes before this one was approved last year.

She said she was happy to see this artwork have a purpose, rather than just “sitting on someone’s wall.”

“To see my little painting become this great big piece on my favorite beach is an artist’s dream come true,” Sue said.

Don Myers, owner of the glass shop, said dozens of people have come in on weekends the last few months to place pieces of glass on the mosaic.

He said he believes the 2,000-pound artwork will have a strong significance in the community.

Council member Joe Mosca, who attended the event with his son, agreed.

Mosca, who was on the Parks and Recreation Commission when the piece was approved, said he was happy to see its progress.

“To kind of see it now, it’s so much bigger than I thought,” he said. “The community coming together to put it together exceeds my expectations. You can just imagine generations from now going down to the lifeguard tower and saying, ‘Wow. My mom or dad had a place in putting the glass down.’”

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