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Del Mar discusses new projects

DEL MAR — With several projects on their must-do list either under way or already completed, council members discussed upcoming priorities at the Aug. 20 meeting. 

Topping the list were building a parking structure and developing the City Hall site, which Mayor Carl Hilliard saw as potential moneymakers.

“My priorities would be to focus on those items where there’s opportunities to create revenue streams,” he said. “There’s never been a better time to borrow money.”

With the city’s high credit rating and construction costs and interest rates at historically low levels, he said Del Mar is in “excellent condition” to accomplish those goals.

Councilman Don Mosier agreed now is a good time to begin those projects, especially since they could take several years to complete.

“They need to get started now,” he said. “I think we have a window of opportunity that will close at some point.

“We’re going to watch that opportunity go away if we slow down too much,” Mosier said, adding that the city should consider working with private groups to bring those projects to fruition.

“We need a good public/private partnership that works for both parties,” he said. “The city is in a position to assume a fair amount of risk, but we should temper that risk by … sharing investment with private partners.”

He said residents have expressed interest in creating more public gathering places and art spaces.

“People are interested in bringing this kind of character to Del Mar,” he said. “They need to be out assembling groups who can fund this and be partners with the city.”

Councilman Mark Filanc, president of J.R. Filanc Construction Company, agreed those projects are needed improvements, but he said he isn’t convinced they are a good form of revenue.

“I would love to see income streams developed through parking structures and City Hall, but from my look at the world none of those are going to be money generators,” he said. “Hopefully they will offset the cost of development.”

Filanc also said the current City Hall site is perhaps “the most valuable piece of property left downtown.” He said the city should consider other sites for City Hall.

Hilliard said other than the actual cost of building a new City Hall, previous studies indicate a parking structure and civic center did pencil out as potential revenue streams.

Hilliard said possibly acquiring the former train station for parking, relocating the Public Works building and selling that property and creating a master plan for the Shores property should also be high priorities.

Council will meet with staff to set definite priorities at an upcoming public workshop.

Projects that have been completed include construction of the new beach safety center and 21st Street pump station and undergrounding utility poles on city property.

A proposal to purchase the Del Mar Fairgrounds is no longer a priority, Hilliard said, since the legislation authorizing the sale has expired. A project to retrofit and rehabilitate the North Torrey Pines Bridge is currently under way and “out of our hands,” he said.