By Kristina Houck
Community members will soon have more places to safely walk in Del Mar, after the City Council on Sept. 16 approved nearly $3 million in sidewalk, street and drainage projects.
In a 4-0 vote, council members agreed to move forward with three improvement projects along Camino del Mar in downtown and by the Beach Colony, and along Jimmy Durante Boulevard, from San Dieguito Drive to the Del Mar Plaza. Deputy Mayor Lee Haydu, who left earlier in the meeting, was absent from the vote.
“The community plan talks about a pedestrian community,” said Councilman Al Corti. “This gives us the ability to have … something we haven’t had for 30 years, something that’s been a priority for 30 years, something that’s a current priority.”
Staff recommended council members approve the projects because the segments along Camino del Mar, which are estimated to cost $165,000 in downtown and $963,000 by the Beach Colony, are regularly used by pedestrians. The two projects are expected to take nine months to complete. The nearly $1.8 million third project along Jimmy Durante Boulevard, which is expected to take a year to complete, will add infrastructure for pedestrian traffic between the plaza and the fairgrounds.
Staff also recommended the council consider the construction of sidewalks along Camino del Mar, from Ninth Street to Fourth Street, and along Camino del Mar, from Fourth Street to Carmel Valley Road, at a later date. Those two projects would cost an additional $1.3 million.
“Even though I know they’re important to the community, we have alternatives for pedestrians to access through those areas where we really don’t in this,” said City Manager Scott Huth, regarding the project along Jimmy Durante Boulevard.
Although Mayor Terry Sinnott voted in favor of the three projects, he said he was disappointed the other two were not moving at this time. He and other council members suggested staff research grants to fund the other projects.
“I’d like to see that end of town and some of those sidewalks as well, but it’s understandable that this is where our heavy pedestrian usage is, and this makes a heck of a lot of sense,” Sinnott said.
About $2 million in SANDAG TransNet bond funds and $1 million from the city’s capital improvement fund and general fund contingency will fund the three projects. The capital improvement fund currently has a balance of $650,000, and the general fund contingency, or year-end budget savings, will provide the remaining $350,000.
“It seems to me that we can afford it,” Corti said. “Financing is available; these are historic rates. I think we would be remiss if we didn’t move forward.”