City receives $112K in grants, rejects project bids

City receives $112K in grants, rejects project bids
Del Mar recently received two donations totaling $12,000 to help fund a project to extend River Path Del Mar from Jimmy Durante Boulevard (one the left) to the Old Grand Avenue Bridge viewpoint, bringing the funding gap to $210,000. Courtesy image

DEL MAR — Council members at the May 18 meeting accepted grants for two projects and rejected all bids for another one.

The Friends of the San Dieguito River Valley donated $5,000 for the River Path Del Mar extension, a quarter-mile stretch of land between San Dieguito Drive and the lagoon that is part of one segment of a seven-mile hiking trail around the city’s perimeter.

The addition will advance the path east from Jimmy Durante Boulevard to the Old Grand Avenue Bridge viewpoint and bring the scenic loop trail one step closer to a future connection at the Crest Canyon segment.

It is a joint project between the city and the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy for an estimated cost of $475,000, which includes design, entitlements and easement acquisition, construction and environmental review and mitigation.

With a $150,000 grant from the Neighborhood Reinvestment Program facilitated by County Supervisor Dave Roberts, more than half of the funding has been committed.

REI, the outdoor retail company, announced May 26 that it is donating $7,000 to the extension effort as well, leaving a funding gap of approximately $210,000.

Speaking on behalf of The Friends of the San Dieguito River Valley, Freda Reid said the idea for the path was conceived many years ago by the city’s lagoon committee.

Volunteers started by removing ice plant from land in front of the Public Works Department.

“We were impatient to get going and we had strong backs at that time,” she said. “So we made an effort to get started.

“There’s been a lot of effort over maybe the last 15 years to connect these spots and to produce a continuous River Path Del Mar,” Reid added. “We’re eager to see the current plans come to fruition as soon as possible, though the cost and the required permits were a major surprise to us.”

Reid said her group is hoping the donation will “speed the conclusion of the efforts of all these people that helped along the way.”

“I just wish we could add more zeros to the check,” she said.

The city also accepted a $100,000 grant award for sea-level-rise planning. The funding came from the Ocean Protection Council, with the California Coastal Commission designated as the administering body.

The money will be used to incorporate strategies in the city’s Local Coastal Program.

Several areas in Del Mar are vulnerable to the effects of sea-level rise, including the San Dieguito Lagoon, beach area homes, city infrastructure such as roads, bridges and utility systems, commercial development on Ocean Boulevard and in the North Commercial Zone, the Del Mar Fairgrounds, public beaches and Powerhouse Park.

“This one’s a big deal,” Councilman Dwight Worden said, noting the grant requirements are stringent, with financial penalties if any are not met.

“We need to take this very seriously when we take this money, and we have to stay onboard with the timeline and the strict requirements,” he added. “I’m not saying it’s overbearing.”

The city has budgeted another $78,000 and city staff is donating time to complete the project.

Several other San Diego cities applied for the grant but the county and Carlsbad are the only other jurisdictions that were awarded funds.

In other news, a project to improve pedestrian access at the intersection of 15th Street and Stratford Court is on hold after the city rejected the three bids submitted to complete the work because all were too high.

Del Mar receives about $15,000 annually in federal Community Development Block Grants for pedestrian access improvements related to the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The city deemed the 15th Street and Stratford Court intersection as deficient and proposed to add three pedestrian ramps, approximately 150 feet of new curbs and gutters, 600 square feet of sidewalks and 1,500 square feet of pavement rehabilitation.

Bids of about $69,700, $82,700 and $117,400 were received.

Public Works Director Eric Minicilli said the quotes were likely on the high side because the job is small, contractors are busy and there was a push to complete the work before summer.

He said the plan now is to ask the grant administrators if it is possible to get a two-year advance. Should that happen there would be a $47,000 shortfall, which the city would have to fund. The project would also have to be rebid.

Minicilli said the cost could go down if the work is done later in the year.

“If we give them more time to build the project — maybe if we do it in the fall or in the winter when it’s less crowded down there at 15th Street — that might help,” he said. “But I’m not confident that we’re going to see a large decrease in the cost.

“Hopefully we’ll just have the extra years of funding from the CDBG to kind of narrow the gap a little bit,” he added.

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