Solana Beach to explore Marine Safety Center options

Solana Beach is set to study whether it’s more feasible to restore or rebuild the Marine Safety Center at Fletcher Cove, or perhaps, temporarily rehome the lifeguard department.

“My first priority is the rehabilitation of this historical facility, and my second priority is the rehabilitation of this facility, so I think you get the point,” Councilman Mike Nichols said during the March 23 meeting. “There’s a lot of history here.”

Constructed in the 1940s, the Marine Safety Center has served as a second home to the city’s lifeguards for decades. The aging facility, however, fails to meet many city and state code requirements.

“Our current building does not meet most of the building codes, and most importantly, the ADA codes,” said City Engineer Mo Sammak.

In a 4-0 vote, with Councilwoman Lesa Heebner absent, the City Council agreed to hire Stephen Dalton Architects to produce a needs assessment and feasibility study to determine the “best course of action” for the existing facility.

While estimating costs, the firm will explore three alternatives, including retrofitting the existing center to comply with codes; finding an interim building that could house the department for 10 to 15 years until a permanent home can be found; and building a new facility.

“I hope that part of that discussion, in developing the scope, would also include detailed interviews with the current lifeguard staff to talk to them about the pros and cons of the existing facility and what their needs would be,” Nichols said. “I also think it might be interesting if you held some kind of stakeholder or community outreach to see what that lifeguard facility means to the community.”

Solana Beach received five proposals from firms for the project, with fees ranging from $23,500 to $73,450. The city selected Stephen Dalton Architects for the firm’s understanding of the project, qualifications, expertise and office location. The contract approved is not to exceed $60,000.

Stephen Dalton, whose firm is based in Solana Beach, prepared schematic designs for the center in 2001. Although the project was never constructed, he was the lead architect for the design and construction of the restroom facility at the site, which was completed in 2005.

The firm has also designed the Fletcher Cove Community Center, the bus shelters that were installed along Highway 101 and the lifeguard station on the Del Mar Shores Beach Access Stairway. Stephen Dalton Architects also provided designs for the Moonlight Beach Marine Safety Center for the city of Encinitas and the 17th Street Beach Safety Center for the city of Del Mar.

“In a project like this, it’s really helpful to have a consultant who’s readily available to address issues that come up during the study,” said City Manager Greg Wade.