Encinitas — The city recently marked the start of two major projects: the 44-acre Encinitas Community Park, also known as the Hall Property, and Moonlight Beach improvements. On Monday, city staff and residents gathered at the future site of the Encinitas Community Park, just west of Interstate 5 and behind Vons, for a groundbreaking ceremony. Council members acknowledged the park’s severe delays, but said the effort was worth it.
The property the park will be built on was purchased by the city in 2001, but it has sat vacant since. Often controversial, the park has been delayed by legal wranglings, concerns over toxic soil and funding challenges. But City Council gave the park and the Moonlight Beach improvements the green light last month.
After the ceremony, Councilman James Bond, who has served on Council for 20 years and will retire in four months, said he’s happy to finally see the park move forward.
“We’ve always needed more park space in Encinitas,” Bond said. “This park is a huge step. In my mind, a Manifest Destiny for recreational activities.”
“It’s a nice way to go out,” he added.
The park will include five paved parking lots, two restrooms, a 13,000-square-foot skatepark, a two-acre dog park, a soccer field and three multiuse fields.
Resident Nate Bauer, who advocated for the skatepark at Council meetings, said he can’t wait for the entire community park.
“It’s awesome. A lot of people rallied together for this,” Bauer said. “There’s something for everyone at the park.”
The park will cost $19.3 million. It will be funded by about $4.5 million in financing, reallocating around $7 million that was previously designated for capital improvement projects and $7.8 million from existing funds.
With construction beginning next month, the park is set to debut to the public at the end of 2013.
Last Friday, residents also took part in another groundbreaking at Moonlight Beach, which was targeted for upgrades due to outdated facilities.
Council members at the ceremony thanked the Parks and Recreation Department for its hard work and talked about the importance of Moonlight Beach.
“It’s truly a treasure, not only for our businesses, our tourists, but most of all, our families and friends that come down here every day,” Councilman Mark Muir said.
Construction on the $4.8 million project is scheduled to begin shortly after Labor Day. It entails removing the existing concession and restroom buildings, which will result in more beach area; adding a combined 3,600-square-foot restroom and concession building at the bottom of the parking lot; and also putting in a 950-square-foot garage, which will house lifeguard trucks, storage containers and rescue equipment. The top of the garage will double as a public overlook.
According to Lisa Rudloff, the city’s parks and recreation director, part of the parking lot near the beach could be closed, but the beach area will remain open during construction.
The improvements are expected to be completed by next May.
As part of the revamp, the Moonlight Beach snack bar closed. A new snack bar will open on another part of the beach.
The project will be paid for with $2.9 million in financing and a $1.9 million grant from the State of California. Encinitas operates and maintains all services and facilities under a longterm lease with the State.