Walkway project promoter Phyllis Minick had much to be thankful for the day before Thanksgiving when she called a Nov. 27 news conference to announce that La Jollan Tom Morgan has pledged $200,000 to make the project a reality.
“I live in La Jolla, I walk the property a lot and I saw it wasn’t getting done and I wanted it to be completed so we can all enjoy it,” said Morgan, a retired commercial Realtor and banker.
“He saw that something needed to be done, and he was appalled at the condition of the sidewalks in this Village, so he stepped forward and said he would like to help us do this,” said Melinda Merryweather, one of Morgan’s friends and neighbors and a walkway improvement supporter. “Two hundred thousand dollars is literally the rest of the money we need to complete the project.”
Minick said a plaque inscribed with the names of Morgan and other project donors will recognize them for their contributions.
Walkway landscape architect Jim Neri said Morgan’s donation to finish the project didn’t come as a complete surprise.
“We knew there was someone out in the community — several donors, including one major donor — who would see the value of the improvements that we’ve designed and would step forward for the betterment of their community,” Neri said.
Walkway improvements are to include vastly improved pedestrian flow along Coast Walk, double-seat walls similar to existing ones at Shell Beach and Seal Rock, the planting of shade trees, repairs to the existing gazebo, the addition of interpretive/historical/educational signage near the new lifeguard station, use of native plants on the bluffs to control erosion and restricting vendor “free speech” tables to a single location.
Demolition of the old Children’s Pool Lifeguard Tower is complete and grading work, including installation of utilities — water, sewer, electric — is nearly finished. Jihad Sleiman, city engineer and project manager for the lifeguard tower, said the city hopes to pour the concrete slab for public restrooms on the bottom level of the pool before work stops for the harbor seals’ pupping season beginning Dec. 16.
“Work is only stopping during pupping season and will resume June 1,” Sleiman said, adding the city’s getting a waiver for work on completing the tower to proceed unimpeded through summer 2014.
“We hope to have the core of the building (lifeguard tower) up, all three stories, and all the heavy equipment should be out of there by Dec. 31, 2014,” Sleiman said.
Neri said preparation of construction drawings to improve the walkway, which have been on hold while funding was secured, will now move forward with the project likely being put out to bid. He said the current Children’s Pool lifeguard tower contractor will be included in the mix.
Whoever ultimately is awarded the job, Neri said the idea will be to reconfigure the Coast Walk space, both in and around the sidewalks.
“The idea will be to create some extra sidewalk width going to a minimum of 11 feet,” Neri said, noting existing sidewalk space is a little as 4 ½ feet in some sections.
“There will be no loss of parking, though parking will be reconfigured,” Neri added.
Neri said the goal of walkway improvements will be to increase traffic flow on land, mimicking what happens offshore.
“The idea is to make traffic flow smoothly through that space on land in much the same way currents drift in the ocean,” Neri said.