Del Mar council OKs donor program for civic center

Community members will have a chance to contribute to the new Del Mar Civic Center.

The Del Mar City Council on Nov. 21 OK’d a donor program for the $17.8 million complex. Among other potential items, the program will help cover the costs of solar panels and kitchen equipment, both of which are currently unfunded. Solar panels are estimated to cost $200,000 and the kitchen equipment is estimated to cost $60,000.

“I think this is going to be a very attractive building and public space,” Councilman Don Mosier said. “I hope that it will attract donors on a volunteer basis.”

Serving as a subcommittee, Mayor Sherryl Parks and Deputy Mayor Terry Sinnott. met with community members experienced in fundraising to work on the plan.

According to city officials and the city staff report, the donor program is not intended to be a large-scale fundraising campaign, but rather an opportunity for members of the public to contribute to the legacy project. The list of donor opportunities will be posted on the city website and included on a flyer.

Other fundraising opportunities include a $4,000 flagpole, $20,000 holiday tree, an inlaid city seal in the town hall or breezeway floor, and outdoor furniture. After a suggestion from Councilman Al Corti, a public art piece will also be added to the donor opportunities list.

“I think it’s a great idea,” Corti said about the program. “The community has indicated they would like to do some fundraising and/or make some donations.”

Del Mar resident Felise Levine was the only member of the public to comment on the matter during the public hearing. She expressed concerns about the use of a holiday tree.

“I was struck by the use of a holiday tree and getting it decorated and putting it on public property,” Levine said. “I am of the Jewish faith. ... A Christmas tree renamed a holiday tree is still a Christmas tree.”

“There are many people of different faiths here,” she added. “I would hope that the City Council, when it considers public land and city-owned land, to just keep that in mind. It doesn’t mean we can’t have a decorated tree, but it is a Christmas tree. There may be some way to acknowledge that there’s Hanukkah at the same time.”

Donors will be recognized on one donor plaque.

“We’re also intending to give credit to people in a modest way, not a splashy way, so that people get recognition but it’s not plastered on every doorknob,” Sinnott said.

The city is submitting a grant application request for approximately $75,000 to $100,000 to the Del Mar Foundation. If approved, funds would help pay for a catering kitchen, kitchen equipment, a dance floor and an enhanced sound system.

Staff is also exploring grant opportunities for the solar panels.

Construction of the city’s new city hall and town hall is currently underway and expected to be completed in spring 2018.