Del Mar moves 2 priority projects forward

DEL MAR — City Council approved additional funding for the 17th Street safety center and authorized a loan application for the 21st Street pump station, providing forward momentum at the March 16 meeting for two of the city’s high-priority projects.
The cost of the safety center, which has been on the city’s work program since 2002, has “been a source of concern for many … and exceeds the city’s financial resources,” the staff report states.
In addition to a new lifeguard tower, project plans originally included an all-weather beach access ramp, paving the parking area and designs to hide the drainage channel and improve the dirt triangle area between the drainage channel and the hotel.
The Finance Committee, Friends of the Powerhouse and residents with architectural and development experience — after three years of review — have identified parts of the project that can be modified or deleted to save money.
Some of those changes, which are mostly aesthetic, include deleting the access ramp and drainage channel cover.
“I know there’s been a lot of concern (about the) drainage ditch,” said Howard Gad, a resident and real estate developer who’s been helping with the project plans.
Gad said a landscaped fence will be installed around the ditch to help screen it off. As a separate project when funds become available, he said the plan is to underground the drainage, which would be less expensive than building a mechanism to cover it.
Everything is being designed to make future improvements to the surrounding area. “Hopefully it will be a park at some point,” Gad said. “We’ll make sure we won’t have to tear out anything we’ve done.”
Total cost for Allard Jansen Architects to scale back the original plans is $20,500, with an additional $4,000 needed for engineering modifications. Friends of the Powerhouse donated $15,750. Council members approved an additional $8,750 from the capital reserve fund for the difference.
“I think it’s going to be a very functional facility, very tastefully done and … a lot less expensive than what we had before,” Gad said.
Council members also authorized the city manager to submit an application to the Water Resources Control Board for a state revolving fund loan to help finance the $5.5 million sewer replacement project.
The revolving fund loan program is a federally backed initiative that allows the state to offer low-interest loans — between 2.5 percent and 3.5 percent — to help cities comply with federal Clean Water Act requirements. “The 21st Street pump station is exactly the type of project for which the program was created,” the staff report states.
The loan program is expecting federal stimulus money. Details of how that will affect the pump station are unknown, “but having the project ready for construction is really positive,” according to the staff report.
Rates are fixed for 20 years. The state is absorbing all loan issuance costs. The city would be reimbursed by the state after paying the contractor. Loan repayment would begin one year after the project is completed. Construction is expected to start this fall and run through the end of 2012, which means payments would begin in late 2013.
Existing bonds the sewer fund is obligated to repay will be retired in September 2015, resulting in a brief overlap in bond payments.
The underground pump station, which was built in the early 1970s, has exceeded its 30-year life expectancy. It handles flow from the majority of the city as well as the fairgrounds. A major failure could result in a significant amount of sewage being discharged into the ocean and lagoons.

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