ENCINITAS — Encinitas’ $3.7 million marine safety center is nearing completion, but the public probably won’t get its first look inside the Moonlight Beach facility until 2018, city officials said.
Capt. Larry Giles, who heads the city’s marine safety division, said this week that he expects that lifeguards and other public safety officials will begin moving into the facility either by late October or early November.
Crews have all but completed the building exterior, and have begun the extensive interior work, which Giles said will take time to complete, including installing communications equipment, first aid equipment, computers, phone systems, office furnishings and other items.
Giles said there are probably close to a dozen subcontractors working on the interior to get the building ready for the fall move-in date.
“It is going to be a little time consuming,” Giles said. “I’d say being able to get the pictures on the wall and have the facility ready for like an open house, you’re looking at the first two months of the new year.”
The 2,200-square-foot facility is replacing the former 60-year-old tower, which crews demolished in October 2016. City officials are expecting the facility to serve as the hub for marine operations for the next 50 years.
It will also house a sheriff’s department substation, dispatch areas, staging areas for marine animal rescues, an enhanced first-aid area, greater lines of sight for lifeguards to monitor a wider beach area and a rooftop observation deck for lifeguards to monitor larger events.
Originally, the city anticipated opening the facility by Memorial Day for the start of the summer beach season, but city staff informed the council in April they couldn’t make the timeline due to a number of reasons.
Heavy winter rains, the discovery of lead, asbestos, plumbing and electrical issues and a second underground seawall all set back the delivery date.
The Council in April held out hope the center could be completed by late July, but also told staff it might be easier to complete it and move in after the summer season.
Giles said that he felt the original timeline of May was too ambitious.
“When you think of a normal house, you’re talking about at least 10 to 12 months, and this is much more complex,” Giles said. “And when you look at where we’re at, it’s been about 11 months, so I think we’ve done a pretty good job.
“I think it was pretty challenging for the contractors, there were a lot of things that weren’t anticipated and nobody knew what was down there from 40, 50 or 60 years ago,” Giles said. “They did a really good job and methodically worked around these things, and the quality of the work was the biggest goal. We didn’t want a structure that was slapped together with cheap materials that would rust and fall apart.”
City officials said despite the longer timeline, the project remains within the approved $3.7 million budget, with only one change order over $50,000 — a $60,000 change order for revised electrical systems.
City officials said they are looking forward to the project’s completion.
“I think our beaches are one of our most cherished assets, landmarks and attractions, and our amenities should match or enhance these community treasures,” Councilman Mark Muir said.
The City Council in 2014 approved the selling of bonds to pay for the project, along with the purchase of the Pacific View Elementary School site.
The city will pay a little more than $800,000 annually over 30 years to pay off the debt.