ENCINITAS — A band belted out surf rock tunes from atop a new garage, residents prepped s’mores by roasting marshmallows in fire rings and beachgoers admired the architecture of new buildings on Moonlight Beach. And even “June gloom” gave way to sunny skies.
Spirits were high as improvements to Moonlight Beach made their debut to around 150 people Thursday afternoon.
During the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Mayor Teresa Barth said the project will be a source of community pride for some time to come.
“What we are doing here is creating memories — your memories, your children’s memories, your family memories,” Barth said. “This is an incredibly special place.”
Construction on the $4.8 million project started this past September. Crews tore down the rundown concession and restroom structures.
Shortly after, they began work on the combined 3,600-square-foot building that contains bathrooms, a beach equipment rental area, a room for the city’s 1,100 junior lifeguards to store equipment and a concession stand.
A stone’s throw south, they put in a 950-square-foot garage that houses lifeguard vehicles and other rescue equipment, and the rooftop doubles as a public overlook.
Parked in the garage: two rescue watercrafts and an all-terrain vehicle. Plus, there was a lifeguard truck outside. Encinitas lifeguard Capt. Larry Giles said that previously lifeguard vehicles were stored at Fire Station No. 3, several miles from the coast.
“Logistically, that wasn’t a very good situation,” Giles said. “They’re more readily available since (the upgrade).”
He added that the area is “safer” now.
Additionally, Giles noted there are plans to revamp lifeguard headquarters, just west of the garage.
“We’re excited about that as well — it’s coming,” Giles said.
Last month, the city announced it picked Moonlight Beach Deli and Dogs to run the concession stand. A sign on the window of the stand stated “coming soon.”
Other features part of the improvement: new showers and picnic tables.
Parks and Recreation Director Lisa Rudloff said that Moonlight Beach draws more than 1.5 million visitors every year, making the project especially important for Encinitas.
“This project goes back to 1995, when the City Council first approved the conceptual master plan for Moonlight Beach,” Rudloff said. “And there’s been a considerable amount of effort to get where we are today.”
The project was paid for with $2.9 million in city financing and a $1.9 million grant from the state. Encinitas operates and maintains services and facilities under a longterm lease with the state.
City Manager Gus Vina said that he was pleased that the project finished on time and on budget.