Community celebrates River Path Del Mar extension completion

More than 200 community leaders and members celebrated the opening of the River Path Del Mar extension with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on May 21. The new trail gives people an up-close look at the San Dieguito Lagoon.

“I think we can see by the size of the turnout here how important this project really is to all of us in this area,” San Diego County Supervisor Dave Roberts said. “This is about quality of life and about how we value our open space.”

The extension project advanced the River Path east from Jimmy Durante Boulevard to the Old Grand Avenue Bridge, bringing the Loop Trail one step closer to a future connection at the Crest Canyon segment. River Path Del Mar previously only provided pedestrian access along the river’s south edge between the river mouth and Jimmy Durante Boulevard.

“The project was designed to encourage recreational and educational experiences in the San Dieguito Lagoon habitat, and facilitates pedestrian movement outside of the San Dieguito Drive roadway,” Del Mar Mayor Sherryl Parks said.

Although construction began in February and was completed in May, the path culminates after more than 25 years of concept support by the city’s San Dieguito Lagoon Committee. Del Mar’s 1976 Community Plan envisioned pedestrian access along the San Dieguito Lagoon and River, facilitated by the River Path segment of the Scenic Loop Trail — a seven-mile hiking trail around the city’s perimeter into seven key trail segments.

“It’s beautiful,” said current committee member Dawn Rawls. “This city has done a wonderful job here.”

“We’re lucky to have such a beautiful day to show it off,” added past committee member Freda Reid.

The city completed the approximately $475,000 project in partnership with the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy and San Diego County.

Del Mar received $210,000 in Neighborhood Reinvestment Program grant funds from the San Diego County Board of Supervisors.

“To add this trail to that park is just a dream come true,” said Roberts, who has served on the San Dieguito River Park Joint Powers Authority for more than a decade. He noted that he walked the trail with his daughter, Natalie, prior to the ceremony. “It gives us that up and close experience with nature. That’s what this is really all about.”

A variety of donors also supported the project.

“This was seriously a community project, and that’s why I say it is your project,” said Trish Boaz, executive director of the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy, a nonprofit dedicated to sustaining the natural resources of the San Dieguito Watershed. “We hope that you enjoy it so much. Come out here, enjoy, reflect. We want you to get out there and just enjoy it.”

Volunteers from the city, conservancy and REI removed trash and invasive plants prior to adding more than 150 new plants to the space. The project also added about 2,400 linear feet of decomposed granite path, 600 linear feet of concrete path, 0.36 acres of native plant restoration, scenic overlooks, picnic tables and benches.

“This is truly an asset to San Diego County,” Roberts said. “This truly is a special place.”

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