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Changing Spaces:
Del Mar Community Building Park Site in Crossfire

Art Olson | Avenida Primavera


Del Mar Community Building.
Photo Art Olson  Click on image to enlarge.

Discussion and disagreement, along with perhaps some confusion has arisen over the fate of the Del Mar Community Building (DMCB) located at the Del Mar Shores property on 9th Street. The building had been the offices of the Del Mar Union School district until it was acquired by the City of Del Mar as part of the Del Mar Shores property purchase. It is now temporarily leased in an agreement between the City and the Del Mar Foundation, and its use is shared between the Foundation and Del Mar Community Connections, for both office space and community activities.

The issue of the fate of the building has arisen during the master planning process for the Del Mar Shores Park, currently underway. The Schmidt Design Group, which is undertaking the process under the guidance of the Shores Advisory Committee, completed the “Discovery” phase of the work, having solicited input from the Del Mar community through a survey, interest group interviews, and public events.

Listed as one of the “Tier 1 Potential Amenities” in the Schmidt report is “indoor meeting/community recreational space.” The report of this first phase of the process was presented on the agenda of the July 6 City Council meeting. The item following on the agenda was the disposition of the Del Mar Community Building, and whether it should be at the City’s Civic Center site. Since both items were at the end of a long agenda, and discussion regarding the Community Building dominated the Shores Master Plan progress report the two items ended up being melded into one.

A number of speakers, including Betty Wheeler, Judd Halenza, and Tom McGreal, speaking on behalf of the Del Mar Foundation and Community Connections presented the view that the Community Building should remain at the Shore site and be part of the planned park, emphasizing the indoor recreational facilities and community activities that it already supports. Other speakers, including Laura deMarco, Joe Sullivan and Carl Hilliard, primarily representing contributors to Friends of the Park organization that raised funds for the purchase of the property argued that the goal of acquiring the property was to provide open space for community recreation, and that select organization office and storage space was not in keeping with that goal.

Shores in fog. Photo Bill Morris.  Click on image to enlarge.


With the meeting running well past 11:00 pm, the Council cut short discussion on the ultimate fate of the Del Mar Community Building, but they did offer their opinions on whether it should be sited as part of the Civic Center development. The discussion left the impression that the Council consensus was that the DMCB should be excluded. However, when this reporter queried several Council members later, it was clarified that it would be possible for the DMCB to be sited in the expansion space that is part of the Civic Center plan – but not as part of the currently approved development. Since it will be at least 3 years before actual development of the Shores Park begins, the long-term fate of the DMCB is still up in the air.


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