DEL MAR — The construction noise at the south end of Powerhouse Park has been replaced with the joyful sound of children playing after Del Mar’s beloved play area reopened this past weekend with brand-new equipment.
The Powerhouse Park Tot Lot closed in December for construction, and local families were all too glad to explore the new play structure, swings, and other new features at a grand reopening ceremony on April 16.
Previously rusted and uneven structures built over 20 years ago were replaced with colorful, new equipment up to date with new standards, all set on top of a child-friendly rubberized surface designed to look like the ocean.
“It’s a wonderful crown jewel for Del Mar, and we couldn’t be more excited to open it back up,” said Assistant City Manager Clem Brown. “I want to thank the public for being patient; it’s not as easy as it looks, but we’re happy to have it open for the community.”
Rebecca McNeil and her sons were one of several local families who enjoyed the new Powerhouse Park playground on April 16. She said they would be returning.
“It’s beautiful — it’s so nice, and the view is amazing. There’s something here for everybody,” she said.
City and community leaders have worked for two years to plan and gather funding for a makeover of the city’s only tot lot, which was made possible by a significant community effort.
Nonprofit Friends of the Powerhouse fundraised over one-third of the $376,000 price tag — around $130,000 — with city funds and state grants meeting the remaining cost.
“This was truly a joint project between the city, the Friends and the community,” said Friends of the Powerhouse President Terri Pavelko. “It was fun, and we worked hard, and the community really supported our activities that we put on.”
This fundraising is now commemorated in a special spot at the new lot. At the opening ceremony, city leaders unveiled a wall of ceramic tiles painted back in August by residents who donated to the project.
“We’re hoping it’ll be an important part of the park,” Pavelko said.
City leaders also thanked Michael Baker International for their design work on the project and Tom and Susan Harrington, whose generous donation of an undisclosed amount provided the bulk of the funds raised by the Friends.
“I think we can all agree that this is the most beautiful tot lot within miles, and it’s for generations to come,” said Mayor Tracy Martinez. “A lot of you gave a lot of money and time for this dream, and I think that’s what makes Del Mar so special.”