Snack Shack project gaining momentum

Snack Shack project gaining momentum
After more than a year, plans to replace The Snack Shack at Solana Vista Elementary School are finally moving forward thanks to an $85,000 county grant. Photo by Bianca Kaplanek

SOLANA BEACH — A project more than a year in the making to replace a concession stand, restroom and storage facility at Solana Vista Elementary School may soon get underway thanks to an $85,000 county grant.

The Snack Shack, as it is known, was built in the 1970s on the school campus on Santa Victoria and has been used as a refreshment stand primarily during Solana Beach Little League games.

The youth baseball organization began a campaign in February, at the beginning of the 2015 season, to the raise the estimated $160,000 needed to replace the aging facility.

“It’s simply time,” said Steve Ford, league president. “It brings a lot of joy to families and not just Little League. We’re trying as much as possible to make it a community Snack Shack for the school and other sports.”

The Solana Beach Soccer Club also uses the fields.

“It’s a great place for neighborhood kids of all ages,” said Mike Stevenson, who is in charge of capital improvements and resource development for the league. “It’s for everybody. It belongs to the school so it’s for whoever wants to use it.”

On behalf of the school and sports organizations the city applied for the $85,000 grant from the county’s neighborhood reinvestment program, which provides funds to various public agencies and nonprofit community organizations for one-time social, environmental, educational, cultural or recreational needs.

According to the county website, high priority is given to capital improvement projects and one-time expenses.

City Council at the July 8 meeting accepted the grant and will administer its use to ensure county requirements are met.

In addition to the grant and money raised through private donations — an exact amount was not available at press time as the treasurer was on vacation — Little League received $3,000 from the city’s Community Grants Program that must be used by Oct. 31, although an exception can be made with proof of good cause.

According to the staff report the athletic fields and facilities at Solana Vista are used year round by more than 900 young athletes and their families, as well as hundreds of students annually as part of the district’s after-school program.

The project also includes new water fountains and a first-aid station.

Additionally, the facility offers volunteer opportunities for youngsters who work behind the counter. According to the staff report it provides them with “a platform to develop teamwork, confidence and a sense of accomplishment off the field.”

Some of the money raised from sales has gone to the fundraising efforts to replace The Snack Shack, which could also undergo a name change. The Health Hut is one possibility that has been suggested but that is still open for discussion, Stevenson said.

The school district, which owns the facility, authorized its demolition and replacement in January 2014. Final plans were submitted to the Division of State Architects in June 2015. Approval from that organization is expected to take two or three months.

Stevenson said it took about a year to get the plans to the point where the DSA would accept them.

“We thought it would be pretty simple to build a little square where we could sell snacks,” he said. “But it turned into a very technical project. The plans had to be perfect. The DSA has been very cooperative to work with. Now it’s in their hands.”

Once all the required permits are secure, the project will go out to bid. Interested contractors can contact Solana Beach Little League via its website.

Stevenson said the construction start date will depend on whether work can take place while school is in session.

“The kids and the community are very excited,” he said. “It’s an awesome place. It’s iconic.”

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