The Coast News Group
Old - DO NOT USE - The Coast NewsRancho Santa Fe

Proposals give options on new civic center

DEL MAR — Based on two presentations at the April 21 meeting, a proposed new civic center should be approximately 12,700 square feet or 15,890 square feet, a difference that equates to more than $1 million in construction costs.

But council members weren’t convinced the smaller, less expensive option is the way to go.

“I’m not trying to create more space than we need or be overly generous, but I think at this point I’d rather lean … more towards something on the higher number,” Councilman Al Corti said. “(H)ave a little bit of room in here for flexible space or growth.”

Councilman Don Mosier agreed.

“I do want to make sure that we accommodate events other than just council meetings,” he said. “I’d like to have performance space, even space to display art and things to make the civic center more interesting and attractive both for residents and visitors.

“My sense is that the right number will come with the design and it’s somewhere in between these,” Mosier added. “We don’t want to spend money unnecessarily, but we do want to get a product that the citizens can both be proud of and can use productively for many years.

“You don’t want to get too skimpy and then in 10 years decide that there’s something else that Del Mar has to do and we don’t have the space to do it,” he said. “So I’d like to have a little bit of growth room.”

Currently City Hall is housed in 8,086 square feet of space that includes offices, a trailer, the annex, the TV studio where council meetings are held, outdoor restrooms and a building that cannot be used for safety reasons.

Del Mar contracted with Carrier Johnson Architects to determine how much space would be needed for the various departments and administrative offices for the city’s 22 full-time and eight part-time employees.

Their analysis indicates a 10,837-square-foot building is sufficient for City Hall, with another 5,046 square feet needed for what is being called a town hall area that will include conference rooms, council chambers, the TV studio and restrooms.

Carrier Johnson also recommended plaza areas that range from 5,000 to 15,000 square feet.

Longtime Del Mar resident and property owner Jim Watkins and his daughter, Kit Leeger of Leeger Architecture, voluntarily prepared another analysis that recommends 8,395 square feet for City Hall and another 4,313 square feet for the town hall.

They suggested a 16,000-square-foot plaza.

In a Finance Department presentation that followed, council members were told the city has sufficient cash flow to borrow between $7 million and $10 million, enough to finance either option.

Planning Director Kathy Garcia said she will present cost estimates at the May 5 meeting based on the space needs.

Councilman Terry Sinnott said as plans move forward he does not want to see a no-build alternative.

“We have a substandard situation,” he said in describing the current City Hall. “We have to improve it. … I don’t want the fallback position to be, do nothing.”