The City of Encinitas has officially welcomed its new $3 million Marine Safety Center at Moonlight State Beach.
At a grand opening ceremony May 30, city officials and public safety personnel shared the goals for the new center, which includes a first aid room, locker, storage, restroom areas, a sheriff desk and observation space. It also offers a 360-degree deck allowing lifeguards panoramic views of the ocean, beach, B Street, C Street and the Moonlight State Beach parking lot.
Paul Giuliano, who has worked as a lifeguard in Encinitas for 27 years, said the new center will allow the rescuers to do their jobs more efficiently.
"When people think of lifeguarding, they think of the obvious job of rescuing those who become [stranded] in the surf or providing first aid to the sick or injured," he said. "This building will dramatically improve our ability to perform those crucial functions... and the opportunity to improve our response to the cliff and river calls, as well as surrounding communities."
In her speech, Mayor Catherine Blakespear said lifeguards currently respond to roughly 3,600 medical aids each year.
Encinitas broke ground on the 2,350-square-foot lifeguard tower, designed by Stephen Dalton Architects of Solana Beach, in the fall of 2016. The former tower, originally built by lifeguard staff in 1953, was demolished in October 2016.
City officials had originally planned to unveil the tower on Memorial Day 2017, but construction was impacted by weather delays, said Stephanie Kellar, senior capital projects engineer for the City of Encinitas.
The lifeguards began moving equipment into the center last October, and the building was fully operational the following month, Kellar said.
The tower also features a 15-foot-by-17.5-foot glass mosaic, which was built over the last two years thanks to hundreds of community participants and the Surfing Madonna Oceans Project. The piece, originally drawn by artist Peggy Sue Zepeda, features more than 30 depictions of marine life above and below the ocean surface.
Bob Nichols, president of Surfing Madonna, said the nonprofit organization plans to install an index in the coming months to help visitors identify the animals.
"It's really a profound way of educating our community on just how fragile and important our ecosystem is," Nichols said.
A memorial bench for John Mossy, a former Encinitas lifeguard, was also installed in March.
The city recently announced the tower won a Public Works Project of the Year Award, which was established to promote excellence in public works projects by recognizing the partnership between the managing agency, the consultant/architect/engineer team, and the contractor, who work together to successfully complete outstanding projects for the community.