SOLANA BEACH — Proposed plans for the restoration of Harbaugh Seaside Trails were introduced at a Dec. 17 open house at Solana Beach City Hall.
Located at the northern entrance to that city, the 3-acre site is east of Coast Highway 101 and borders the San Elijo Lagoon. Once known as Gateway Park, it was renamed nearly two years ago in honor of a $1.15 million donation from the George and Betty Harbaugh Charitable Foundation.
Most of the contribution went to pay down a loan used to buy the property, which was purchased by the San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy in 2011 to ensure it would remain open space.
Since the 1950s several development projects had been proposed for the site.
Renovation plans include the addition of trails, a viewing deck and a welcome area with commemorative tiles. The entrance sign will be similar in style to lettering used at Fletcher Cove Community Center.
Maritime succulent, chaparral and scrub restoration is also planned. The trails will connect with Solana Beach’s existing Coastal Rail Trail.
Doug Gibson, the conservancy’s executive director, said once the final grading and plant plans are completed they will be submitted to the city so the property can be rezoned from commercial to visitor-serving open space.
In a perfect world, construction would begin in June or July 2017 and take approximately six months to complete, Gibson said.
The project is about 85 percent funded, he added, with around $650,000 still needed. Gibson said a $200,000 endowment fund was created, thanks to a donation, for ongoing upkeep.
“It’s important to have money for maintenance,” he said, adding that matching funds are sought for the endowment money.
Founded in 1987, the San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy became the nonprofit land trust for San Elijo Lagoon, which at one time was slated for development that included a marina with 750 homes and a water park attraction.
The Harbaughs were lifelong San Diegans who loved wildlife, nature and animals and supported numerous charities, libraries and Balboa Park.
When his wife passed away, George Harbaugh created the foundation to ensure the family estate would be invested to better the lives of others. They passed without heirs.
There are a limited number of commemorative tiles available, with prices ranging from $2,500 to $10,000.
Visit sanelijo.org/seasidetrails for more information about opportunities to participate in the restoration and support ongoing efforts.