SOLANA BEACH — A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Nov. 12 to commemorate the replacement of the Del Mar Shores access stairway, although the structure has been open to the public since early October.
“This was really a team effort,” Mayor Tom Campbell said before thanking city staff, engineers and the design and construction teams. “I think we have a fantastic end result here.”
Funded by nearby property owners, the stairway was built in the 1970s and deeded to Solana Beach after it became a city in 1986.
Over the years the marine environment caused the stairs, handrails and safety fencing to deteriorate. The concrete eventually cracked and rebar was exposed and rusted.
Mike Nichols, who begins his third term as a council member next month, said during his first council meeting eight years ago he and his colleagues agreed to replace the stairway.
“There was never a doubt that we wanted to replace it and rebuild it but there was this issue called money,” Campbell said. “Where were we going to get it from?”
When a structural engineer concluded there was “a high probability that the staircase can collapse at any time,” it was closed for public use in November 2012, leaving no access to the beach from the southernmost section of the city.
The estimated $1.1 million project was funded by a $200,000 grant from the California Coastal Conservancy, beach and public recreation fees collected by the city and the city’s general fund.
The project, which includes a lifeguard tower, was designed with input from residents and lifeguards.
Campbell said since it reopened the feedback has been positive other than a few complaints about beachgoers using the railings to dry towels and swimsuits. He said trash cans and dog-waste baggies will be added and a maintenance plan should be developed.
“This was a great accomplishment,” Campbell said. “I truly appreciate everybody’s involvement. Let’s make this one last 75 years.”
Area resident Bill Blok and his young son, Isiah, trekked down the 112 stairs the day of the ribbon cutting.
Blok, a surfer, said he missed the stairway while it was under construction.
“It’s awesome,” he said about new structure.