SOLANA BEACH — As the walls came down, costs went up to renovate Fletcher Cove Community Center. But with an expected shortfall of less than $3,000, council members voted unanimously at the March 23 meeting to use money from undesignated reserves to fund the deficit.
When the existing siding and drywall were removed a few weeks ago, construction crews and city staff got their first look at the skeleton of the former World War II Army barracks built before being moved to its bluff-top location in the 1940s.
“It wasn’t a pleasant thing,” City Manager David Ott said. “It was of substandard construction. … It was definitely put together by people who had no clue on what they were building.”
Ott said there was moisture and significant termite damage throughout. “We were pretty lucky that thing was still standing once we got to it,” he said.
Mo Sammak, the city engineer, described the framing around the openings as “totally inadequate” and said when the siding was removed “the building actually began giving way and shaking on the south end.”
Two key support beams were missing, as were several roof truss components. “You don’t have to be a structural engineer to recognize that this is not a standard building code for a wood frame building,” Sammak said.
Sammak said the slope behind the west wall was steeper than anticipated so the new wall height had to be increased by 18 inches. A foundation and stair lights for safer access were also added.
Additionally, there were some unexpected cost increases for utility work, however, staff was able to negotiate reduced fees with San Diego Gas and Electric and Santa Fe Irrigation District.
Staff also presented a revised plan to increase the paved area so it surrounds the building. The cost to do that is estimated at $14,500 for single-color concrete. Councilman Mike Nichols, who created the conceptual design, said the cost would likely double if seashell aggregate was used.
The cost for all the changes and upgrades was estimated at $91,000, bringing the new total cost to $370,000. The city has $346,000 to renovate the building that includes $185,000 from the Solana Beach Community Foundation, $69,000 in Americans with Disabilities Act funds, $62,000 in Redevelopment Agency funding, a $25,000 donation from residents Peter House and Carol Childs and $5,000 from the San Dieguito Union High School District Adult Education Program.
After factoring in $11,525 in contingency funds and a possible $10,000 windfall from sales of donor tiles, the city was still about $2,500 short, an amount Councilman Tom Campbell called “pretty darn close.”
“I don’t think we have any choice,” he said. “We’re not going to be able to use (the building) if we don’t fix the framing.
“Some of these other things are really not options,” he said. “We have to do them.” Campbell said he also supported spending $14,500 on the larger hardscape.
“But I don’t want to spend another ($14,500) putting some shells in it,” he said. “It doesn’t make sense to me.”
In response to a question from Councilman Joe Kellejian about the timeframe “in case someone wants to step up” and donate money for the aggregate, Ott said the concrete work will likely start in June.
Campbell said if the money can be raised by donations, “I’ll go for the seashells.”
Council authorized staff to use up to $5,000 from the city’s undesignated reserve to cover the gap. Ott said everything has been inspected and he didn’t anticipate any other issues. The project is still expected to be done in time for the city’s anniversary celebration in July.