DEL MAR — Families in Del Mar will enjoy brand-new playground equipment and a renovated rubber tot lot at Powerhouse Park as soon as year’s end, city officials shared this week.
Plans to replace the 18-year-old equipment at the tot lot along Coast Boulevard have been in the works for a few years. Playground equipment and the rubberized surface have largely fallen into disrepair, with the swingset current not in use due to rusting, and some of the equipment does not meet updated height standards.
After implementing feedback from community members, nonprofit Friends of the Powerhouse and the city’s Design Review Board and Planning Commission over the past year, the Del Mar City Council approved the necessary permits for the $376,000 project as well as the purchase of new equipment from manufacturer KOMPAN at its Tuesday meeting.
The new slide and climbing structure will include two towers, one suited for kids ages 2 to 5 and the other for those ages 6 to 12, connected by a rope ladder bridge, with a new rubberized lot featuring the design of waves crashing on a shore. Construction is expected to begin in October and be complete by the end of 2022.
“That was the feedback we heard — trying to design playground equipment that could accommodate a large range of play for children of different ages and abilities,” interim assistant city manager Clem Brown told council members on Tuesday.
The project will include other amenities such as new rocking toys, a standing spin toy, play panels, a new swing set and an interactive sand table in the existing sandbox area at the southern end of the tot lot, which will remain unchanged.
Council members unanimously approved moving the project along and were excited to see safety prioritized at the park.
“This is a terrific project. Not only does this have to be constructed well, but it also has to be safe, and clearly, that’s built into this design. This is a beloved playground by so very many, so congratulations,” Councilwoman Terry Gaasterland told city staff.
The total project cost of $376,000 accounts for not only the purchase of the new equipment but costs associated with the demolition of existing equipment, removing and replacing the rubber lot surface and completing drainage and other improvements, according to city staff.
Funding comes from a mix of state and local sources, including a $180,672 California State Parks grant, a $45,000 local match from the city, and around $100,000 raised by Friends of the Powerhouse to purchase the new playground equipment.
While this leaves an estimated shortfall of around $50,000, city staff anticipate being able to drum up additional financial support in the community to prevent pulling from the General Fund.
Brown added that the total could also change as the city receives construction bids from applicants in September.
“Staff is proactively looking into potential community fundraising opportunities to potentially make up any shortfall, depending on what those bids come back in the fall,” Brown said. “I’ve already had conversations with some other nonprofits in the community that have expressed interest in contributing to the project, so staff feels very confident that if the costs do come in around $376,000, we will have other project partners to help us make up that shortfall.”
He added that construction costs had risen significantly due to inflation, with initial estimates from October 2021 increasing by around 30%.
On July 19, Friends of the Powerhouse will hold a Party in the Park fundraiser at Sea Grove Park for local families from 3 to 5:30 p.m. For a donation of $100, attendees will be able to paint a ceramic tile displayed at the park.
All proceeds will go toward the Powerhouse tot lot renovation project.
More information about the tot lot renovation project is available on the city’s website.