San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy taking steps to complete trail link to bridge

River Path Del Mar trail users will soon be able to enjoy the view of the San Dieguito Lagoon from the Grand Avenue Bridge.

With a $150,000 grant from San Diego County, the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy plans to complete a trail linking River Path Del Mar with the Grand Avenue Bridge — a longtime goal of Del Mar, the city’s San Dieguito Lagoon Committee, the conservancy and San Dieguito River Park Joint Powers Authority.

“Thank you so much for coming out,” said Trish Boaz, executive director of the conservancy, a nonprofit dedicated to sustaining the natural resources of the San Dieguito watershed, during the Dec. 3 public workshop. “We’re very excited about this project, and we’re looking forward to working with everyone here to make it something that’s really a community jewel.”

Despite the wet weather, more than a dozen community members and project partners gathered at the first public workshop regarding the River Path Del Mar Extension project. They discussed a variety of topics, from project design to user.

The River Path Del Mar trail runs along the south bank of the San Dieguito River from Jimmy Durante Boulevard to the coast. The River Path Del Mar Extension Project would extend the path along the eastside of Jimmy Durante Boulevard, across 12 to 15 parcels to the Lagoon Viewpoint at the Grand Avenue Bridge.

From installing benches and trash cans, to incorporating an educational component along the trail, attendees suggested a variety of design considerations to explore. Many simply emphasized the importance of having access to the view, particularly the lagoon.

“It would be, I think, a mistake to just put a trail along the road,” said resident Tom O’Neil. “I would much prefer to have it in nature.”

The public is invited to again offer feedback on the project at the San Dieguito Lagoon Committee’s next meeting, at 6 p.m. Dec. 17 at the Del Mar Library.

City staff is expected to update the Del Mar City Council on Jan. 20. From there, the project will go to the Planning Commission in February, the Design Review Board March and April, and back to the council in April and June, explained Joseph Smith, associate planner for the city of Del Mar.

“There’s going to be a lot of action in the early year,” he said.

Del Mar and the San Dieguito Lagoon Committee, which oversees lagoon preservation and enhancement, have “bounced around and advocated for” extending River Path Del Mar for about three decades, said Senior Management Analyst Jon Terwilliger.

During a special meeting Feb. 28, the council authorized the city manager to apply for grants to extend the trail.

In a 3-0 vote, council members permitted City Manager Scott Huth to apply for a $150,000 grant from San Diego County’s Community Enhancement Program, which is funded by a portion of the county’s transient occupancy tax revenues.

In case the application was not successful, the council also authorized Huth to apply for funding from the county’s Neighborhood Reinvestment Program.

In September, the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy received a $150,000 Neighborhood Reinvestment Program grant from the county, facilitated by Supervisor Dave Roberts. The funds are designated for project design and environmental review, and must be used by September 2015.

“With that time frame in mind, we’re fast-tracking the design portion of this, but we also wanted to get as much feedback from the community along the way,” Terwilliger said. “The good thing is that this has been worked on for a long time, so we have a good sense of what people are looking for out here.”

To provide parking for the extended path, Del Mar has secured a long-term lease on a parcel from the North County Transit District at Jimmy Durante Boulevard and San Dieguito Drive.

The total project cost is estimated at $470,000. Del Mar has budgeted $20,000 toward the project and the conservancy has raised an additional $70,000. Del Mar and the conservancy plan to secure the remaining balance through a combination of city funds, grants, mitigation funds and private donations.

“I’m just happy to hear everybody’s ideas,” said Councilman Terry Sinnott. “This is the time to get people’s thoughts down. Talk to your friends and neighbors, and get them involved as well. The more input you have, the better quality you’re going to have.”

For more about the project, visit www.delmar.ca.us/472/River-Path-Del-Mar-Extension-Project.

Copyright © 2018, Del Mar Times
56°