By Claire Harlin
There was cause for celebration in Solana Beach on March 2.
Residents and community leaders came together to commemorate the recent purchase of Gateway Park, which conservationists have had their eyes on for more than 15 years.
“This was one of the last and most important opportunities to preserve Solana Beach,” said local lawyer Wayne Brechtel, who represented the conservationists in their endeavor in 2004.
The San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy (SELC) pulled together financing to buy the property on very short notice when it received word last spring that the lagoon site would be put on the market in coming months. The SELC closed escrow in December after months of negotiation. Previously there were plans to develop a hotel at the site, located on the east side of Coast Highway 101 at the north end of Solana Beach.
A group of private financiers stepped up to buy the $3.75 million property, and now the SELC is raising money to pay them back.
Gerri Retman-Opper, former chair of the city's Parks and Recreation Commission, was honored at the event by District 3 County Supervisor Pam Slater-Price with a proclamation for her dedication in actively opposing the project and testifying repeatedly over the years to the city council, which was at one time split on the issue.
She said her job is not done yet, and she will continue to focus her efforts on Gateway Park.
"Now the conservancy owns it, and it is my goal to see these people paid off," she said.
For more information on Gateway Park or to make a donation, visit