By Joe Tash
Groundbreaking is set for next month on a $2 million replacement for Del Mar’s dilapidated main lifeguard station, a project that is planned for completion by next summer’s beach season.
At a meeting Monday, Sept. 19, the Del Mar City Council approved a contract with E.C. Constructors, Inc., to build the 17th Street Beach Safety Center, as the project is called.
The council also voted to accept a $180,000 payment toward the construction costs from Friends of the Powerhouse, a community group working to raise money for the project.
The group has pledged to give the city a total of $700,000, or about one third of the construction cost. So far, the group has given the city $340,000, including the payment made Monday and a payment of $160,000 made earlier this year. The group plans to complete its pledge through two additional installments in February and April.
The council approved the donation from the friends group and the construction contract on a 4-0 vote, with Councilman Mark Filanc absent.
The existing lifeguard station is in disrepair, and lifeguards have to climb a rickety ladder to reach the second floor, said Mayor Don Mosier.
“It’s falling down. It was built in the 60s, it’s just way too small and the building is not worth repairing,” Mosier said. Along with a new headquarters and locker rooms for lifeguards, the 2,400-square-foot building will include new public restrooms.
Following the council’s vote, the friends group presented a symbolic oversized check to Mosier in front of the council dais.
“We appreciate this check and all the fund-raising activity you’ve been doing,” Mosier said.
In an interview, Barbara Harper, president of the Friends of the Powerhouse, said, “It’s so great to get it going.”
The group has been holding fund-raising events and also selling naming opportunities, along with engraved bricks and planks for a boardwalk that will cover a drainage ditch near the new safety center. The boardwalk will improve both the appearance of the area and beach access, according to the Friends of the Powerhouse website.
Fund-raising efforts are continuing as the friends group seeks to complete its pledge to the city.
“The community, any contribution they make, gives heart and meaning to the project, everybody takes ownership that way,” Harper said.
The friends group was formed to raise money for renovation of an old powerhouse at the beach which is now a community center where weddings, funerals, birthday parties and other events are held.
The group is dedicated to raising funds for beach-area projects, Harper said. “If the city needs help raising money to complete a project, that’s what our goal is.”
According to a staff report, the city issued a request for proposals for the project in August, and received six bids. E.C. Constructors, Inc., came in lowest at $2,071,958.
When design and other costs and a 10 percent construction contingency are added, the total project cost is $2,667,958, according to the staff report.
Funds for the project come from a variety of sources, including the sale of the Balboa lot, the Friends of the Powerhouse, a $650,000 grant from the Coastal Conservancy and $400,000 from the city budget, according to the report.
The project will include demolition of the existing safety center and public restrooms, construction of the new safety center building, a sea wall and a box culvert drainage structure.
Construction is expected to take nine months, with occupancy expected no later than June 2012, the report said.
The groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for 1 p.m., Monday, Oct. 3, at the site of the existing life guard tower. Renderings of the project will be available for the public to view.
Those who want to contribute to the project can join those who have already given money for naming rights of the first aid room and the public bike racks, Harper said. The number to call to donate is 858-755-5220, or log on to www.friendsofthepowerhouse.org.
Donations can also be sent to Friends of the Powerhouse, P.O. Box 297, Del Mar, CA, 92014.