Solana Beach to make park-like seating area near community center

By Claire Harlin

The uneven, unwalkable site of the Fletcher Cove Community Center is currently no parallel to the immaculate, newly renovated building it surrounds. Pedestrians have to climb a two-foot-tall wall to enter the grassy area, which lacks footpaths or flat gathering space, and there are no benches or trash cans on the ocean-view site.

But the Solana Beach City Council’s Feb. 8 approval of renovations to the space seeks to change all that. The proposed design is the third and final phase of the entire community center restoration, which was deemed by the city a “priority project” over the past two years.

The project seeks to transform the site into a “more user-friendly park environment” and consists of removing an outside retaining wall, widening the sidewalk and adding two entrances to the area. Picnic furniture, trash cans and possibly barbecue equipment are also in the works. The Solana Beach Community Foundation, co-chaired by community member Peter House, is funding the project, estimated to cost $33,500.

The picnic area proposed for the site will be situated on four flat terraces, each with panoramic views of the ocean and Fletcher Cove Park. Each picnic area will have a concrete bench similar to the ones at Fletcher Cove Park. The entrances will be connected to the seating areas with decomposed granite pathways, and barbecue equipment will be added dependent on funding. No landscaping is included in the design at this time, and can be added at a later date, according to project plans.

Mayor Joe Kellejian suggested offering community members the opportunity to contribute financially to the project in exchange for naming the benches in remembrance of loved ones. Councilwoman Lesa Heebner said she thought the council had once discussed not doing naming rights around the community.

“It becomes a little graveyard-like with names all over the place and we have homages to Fluffy and Fido, as well as wonderful people,” Heebner said, adding that there could be an opportunity to offer dedication tiles on a wall at the site.

Councilman Tom Campbell said he was not sure if he likes the idea of freestanding iron pole barbecues, which were proposed as a possible addition to the site.

“It creates increased maintenance,” he said. “And we want people to come up here and bring their picnic basket. I don’t want them coming and starting a bon fire in the barbecue.”