ENCINITAS — Vicky Irvin used her hand to shield away the mid-morning sun as she chased her daughter, Emi, around the playground at Encinitas Community Park.
It’s a common sight at the three-and-a-half-year-old playground, which has all the bells and whistles of a modern-day play area — but nothing in the way of shade.
“You look around the park and they have these baby trees that will eventually grow big and tall, but right now, there’s just not a lot of shade,” Irvin said.
Other mothers around her agreed.
The lack of shade will soon be a thing of the past at this and two other Encinitas parks, as the City Council voted June 20 to award a $309,000 contract to install shade structures on the playgrounds at Encinitas Community, Sun Vista and Leo Mullen Sports parks.
“That would be amazing,” said Kylie Bridgford. “I mean, we are near the beach and sometimes there’s a breeze, but other times, it gets really hot.”
The city has been planning on putting up the flag-like structures, which provide some cover from the sun on hot days, since 2016, when the council adopted the parks master plan.
That plan, which maps out improvements and future parks citywide, called for the city to look for opportunities to add shade structures at future and existing parks. Encinitas Community Park and its companion Maggie Houlihan Dog Park, Sun Vista Park and Leon Mullen Sports Park were identified as the four parks most in need of the structures.
The city went out to bid for the project in March and received three bids. The council on its large consent agenda June 20 awarded the contract to So Cal Shade Sails, which bid $311,000 for the project, which at the time included the dog park.
But the city recently installed some shade structures at the park, so they removed it from the bid, and awarded the lower contract amount.
City spokeswoman Lois Yum said the contract is being finalized and the schedule hasn’t been discussed yet, but said Encinitas Community is the first park scheduled to receive the structures.
That was music to Bridgford and Irvin’s ears.
“I can’t wait,” Irvin said. “It’s going to be incredible to have them.”