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DEMA to host weekly public meetings

ENCINITAS — In an effort to inform merchants and the public about the impacts of ongoing construction downtown, the Downtown Encinitas Mainstreet Association is holding weekly meetings at the Potato Shack beginning Oct. 18.
The City Council, in response to a lawsuit awarded a construction contract to Tri-Group Construction in the amount of $329,180 plus a 10 percent contingency for the construction of American with Disabilities Act (ADA) improvements in downtown Encinitas on Aug. 24. While the lion’s share of the funding was pulled from the capital improvement program, $23,698 was transferred from the Local Safe Routes to School program.
Construction is slated to begin immediately on the Downtown ADA Sidewalk Improvements project. While the timing is less than advantageous for merchants preparing for the busy holiday shopping season, compliance is necessary per federal regulations known as ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG).
Since its inception in 1994, ADAAG has been revised several times; consequently there is a need to bring facilities in the City up to current ADAAG standards to ensure the City’s compliance with the ADA according to city Senior civil engineer Greg Shields.
The city staff identified existing parking spaces and site locations along Highway 101 from D to I Streets that need to be improved in order to comply with current ADAAG standards. Included in the required upgrades is improving existing pedestrian ramp locations, adding new pedestrian ramps, and improving parking spaces in order for downtown Encinitas to be ADA compliant.
“We want to keep people up to date with the progress of the construction,” said the association’s executive director Dody Crawford. “Available parking is a big concern to our merchants and construction is expected to last through mid-January,” she said. “We want to make sure we give up-to-the-minute details about what’s going on downtown.”
Shields said the meetings would serve as an important informational tool and provide an opportunity for open communication about the project.
Some residents at the Lumberyard Shopping center said the timing of the construction surprised them. “We have so many activities downtown during the holidays aside from the increase in shoppers,” said Laura Burke, who lives in New Encinitas. “But I guess there really isn’t a good time to rip up the sidewalks in a busy shopping area.”
The association’s annual Safe Trick or Treat is slated for Oct. 31 and the annual Fall Festival, a premiere street fair that serves as a shopping bonanza is Nov. 20. Both events bring in thousands of people to the downtown area. In addition the city’s Holiday Parade is slated for December.
“I like downtown, the feel and the bustling vibe,” said Petra Burns, a local resident. “If the city has to make the improvements then so be it. I think people will be inconvenienced but it probably won’t be as bad as it sounds.”
Merchants are encouraged to attend the weekly Tuesday morning meetings at the Potato Shack, 120 West I St. at 8 a.m.

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