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— Three years ago, Del Mar Unified School District decided to sell off a 5.3-acre parcel of surplus property located in the heart of the city, at Ninth Street and Camino del Mar, for $8.5 million. Over the last twenty years, the Del Mar Shore property has been home for some of the school district’s administrative services, all of Del Mar little leagues, a makeshift dog park, and the Winston School for children with learning difficulties.

Looking to save the open space from high-density development, a group of Del Mar residents, along with Winston School officials, raised over $5 million to purchase the land-- quite the accomplishment, even for the silk-stocking denizens of Del Mar.

But now, with 37 months left on the loan, an outstanding balance of $3.5 million, and an ebbing economy, the non-profit heading up the efforts, Friends of Del Mar Parks, is scrambling to shore up the remaining balance to the City of Del Mar.

At the December 15 Del Mar City Council meeting, during the monthly fundraising status report to council members, president and founder of Friends of Del Mar Parks, Joe Sullivan explained the details of their new campaign.

“Last month we instituted the 41/36 campaign, where if every household in Del Mar did their part to pay off the $3.5 million balance, it would come to about $1500 per household, which divided by 36 months is only $41 dollars a month, about the amount that you probably send to the gym that you never go to.”

Since that campaign started, Sullivan said, more than 30 new contributors have signed on.

Councilmember Richard Earnest responded. “The project is a great idea but I’m assuming that when people sign up for that per month deal, we’re getting the money up front because we have things to pay off.”

“No, we’re transferring the money to the city when it comes in. So in the last two months we’ve transferred $58,000. The way that the 41/36 campaign works is people generally sign up with a credit card and we draft them each month.”

A day after the presentation, Sullivan elaborated on the difficult task of raising the remaining $3.5 million and the need for implementing the new campaign.

“In order to do this, I’ve got to be an optimist. My experience is, there is an enormous amount of generosity in the people of Del Mar and people clearly see this as a very important part of the community and a place for kids. Clearly this financial meltdown has made it more difficult. It’s just natural that philanthropists and charitable people have less to give this year and I think that people are going to tend to focus in on their traditional charities. There’s no question that this financial meltdown has slowed down the efforts of this campaign. This 41/36 campaign is a response to that.”

For more reasons why you should cancel your gym membership, go to delmarshores.org.

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delmar1029 Nov. 8, 2009 @ 11:22 a.m.

What is not mentioned in this article is why the Del Mar School District sold this property in the first place? ... answer ... to satisfy the district staff's belly aching over space needs. They propose to close down the Del Mar Hills elementary school thus forcing the kids to transfer to another school ... it gets worse ... class size will increase ... all so these selfish district administrators can have a larger cubicle.

In these tough economic times with 10% unemployment how can these district employees justify the sale of the property?

To compound the problem ... the City of Del Mar has serious budget problems and is now proposing to declare its downtown area a blighted area ... why? ... so they can qualify for federal HUD funds and to make the area a redevelopment district ... why? ... although they have no studies to prove it will benefit the city they believe a an increase in revenues will help the city stay afloat ... and how pray tell do they think this will get funded? ... by going into debt ... they want to float a bond issue pay for the debt with redevelopment revenues dedicated to this debt ... what they have not considered is the cost of all this debt ... 25% underwriting and bond counsel fees and a 20 to 25% discount on the bond ... that's close to a 45% cost to the taxpayers ... and they still haven't realized that this redevelopment district will take revenues away from the city's general fund.

It gets worse they propose to close a lane of Pacific Coast Highway thus creating a bottle neck for commuters during rush hour and creating a traffic problem for the neighborhoods and commuters.

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