DEL MAR — “It’s a wonderful day,” said longtime Del Mar resident Jim Watkins, one nearly 40 people on hand for the Sept. 19 ceremonial groundbreaking for the new civic center complex.
“It’s been a long time coming,” added his daughter, architect Kit Leeger.
“It’s taken 46 years for us to get to this point,” Councilman Terry Sinnott said.
Councilman Don Mosier described it as “a really big day,” and Mayor Sherryl Parks, in her opening remarks, called it “a very important milestone.”
“We now have a plan, a vision that will present a civic center that we can all use and enjoy,” she said. “Once complete we will all be meeting here for a variety of meeting and events.”
The city bought the property, initially home to Del Mar’s first public school, in 1970 as a temporary location for City Hall.
As the building began to deteriorate, to the point where only half of it could be occupied because of safety reasons, several attempts were made to replace it but none came to fruition.
It wasn’t until about three years ago that the project moved, as Mosier said, “full speed ahead.”
“But full speed ahead for Del Mar is still not that fast,” he added.
The planning process included myriad public meetings and workshops and a survey “to get the best sense of what Del Mar wants for City Hall,” Councilman Terry Sinnott said.
“I think with all the work that has gone in we have come to a very good solution,” he added. “It will be a real anchor to the southern part of our small village.”
Located on Camino del Mar at 10th Street, the $17.8 million complex will include a City Hall, a Town Hall, a single-story parking structure, surface parking, a breezeway, a plaza large enough to accommodate the farmers market, a small catering kitchen and areas for future expansion, such as a restaurant.
“We’ve got a really innovative design for the Town Hall which we think will suit all the activities our citizens need and deserve,” Mosier said. “And we’ve got a very efficient City Hall that will finally give our dedicated employees a place to work that they fully deserve.”
Council members held a demolition kickoff in June that included taking swings at the old building with sledgehammers.
“I’d like to voice my appreciation for the neighbors who put up with the demolition process and noise,” Mosier said. “It was a little disruption to their daily lives and unfortunately that’s going to continue until the new sound wall is finished in a few weeks.
“We hope that will diminish the impact of this construction on our neighbors,” he added. “Please bear with us. Sorry for the noise. … It will be over in 18 months.”
Construction is now under way and is expected to be complete in spring 2018.
Councilman Al Corti had three messages for the construction company, RABC-ECC, A Joint Venture.
“Keep us on schedule. Keep us on budget. We don’t like change orders,” he said.