Reactions from businesses mixed
Del Mar's downtown streetscape improvement project will get underway on Jan. 11, smoothing out deteriorated sidewalks and curb lines and evening out the pavement to make them Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant — not to mention easier to walk over in heels.
A collection of Del Mar Village business owners met at Jimmy O's on Dec. 21 with City Manager Karen Brust and Public Works Director David Scherer as the city hopes to make the work the least disrupting to local businesses as possible.
"It's never a good time to do a project like this," said Scherer. "We apologize in advance for the project and we hope to be in and out as quickly as possible."
While some business owners fear the limited access during construction, others said that the process may be messy, but the end result would be a more beautiful village.
"We're just going to have to suck this up and just get through it and get done," said Randy Gruber, chef and owner of Americana Restaurant.
The work will take place between 11th and 15th Streets on Camino del Mar. The city selected mid-January to the end of February to avoid the busy holiday season and be completely done with the work by the peak tourist seasons of spring and summer.
No streets will be closed and the contractor is required to have at least a single lane open in both directions. Work will be done from Monday to Friday, from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the contractor has said they do not expect to be in front of any business for the entire six weeks. Rather, they say, the work is likely to be in front of individual businesses for less than a week.
Access pathways will be established, Scherer said.
A few business owners were less than pleased about the project.
"We don't have to worry about access because nobody will come," said Suzanne Sokol of Sundancer.
Plans for the improvements were approved in early July. It will cost about $400,000 for the downtown area plus $100,000 worth of additional improvements around town. To fund the revitalization, the city is using federal Economic Recovery Act money.
In addition to fixing sidewalks, patching up roads and repairing driveways, three wooden benches — two of them wooded and one brick on the west side of Camino del Mar — will be removed. The city does not have plans yet to replace them, especially as the council considers replacing parallel parking spaces with angled parking. The parking proposal will be on the council agenda in January, as well as one to raise the parking limit from 90 minutes to two hours.
Trash containers will be replaced with new Del Mar Village Association-purchased containers that will also have a recycling component.
Shop owners have complained about the poor condition of the post office boxes along Camino del Mar, but Scherer said they have not yet spoken to U.S. Postal Service officials about replacing them.