Like a bowl of bad soup, there’s too much salt in the soil at the North Ocean Beach Gateway Project — and the flaw could push into next year the long-awaited completion of the quarter-acre mini-park at the corner of Sunset Cliffs and West Point Loma boulevards. A tentatively scheduled ribbon-cutting for November 20 now appears to be beyond reach.
The soil has already failed two tests and the city is awaiting results of the third, said Monica Muñoz, a spokesperson for the city’s Public Works Department. Each failed test brings more delays. It takes about 15 days to get results back, Muñoz said.
The city lacks a suitable facility to test the soil and must send the samples to a lab in Anaheim, a construction employee on site said. A contractor has been adding more topsoil and water in an attempt to reduce the salt content. Nothing may be planted until the soil meets city standards, Muñoz said.
The soil problem is the latest in a string of setbacks that has plagued the project’s second phase, which consists of decorative walls, landscaping, an irrigation system and an ADA-compliant walkway that meanders from the corner south to adjacent Robb Field. Phase II was originally envisioned as a six-month project to be completed by August of 2013 at a cost of $150,000, city documents show. But problems finding a contractor and budget issues delayed the groundbreaking until last June.
The city now estimates completion in February of 2015 at a cost of $401,000, according to a city estimate as of November 1. City councilmember Ed Harris, whose District 2 seat includes Ocean Beach, hoped for a ribbon-cutting before his term ends on December 10 as a way to express gratitude to the Ocean Beach Community Development Corporation and other civic groups, aide Chet Barfield said. It’s unclear whether a grand-opening ceremony can take place by that date, when election winner Lorie Zapf takes over.
The first phase of the project was completed in January of 2011 at a cost of just over $845,000. It consisted of a circular plaza with a shell art pattern and “People’s Wall” with memorial bricks and tiles. The park is located at the site of the former Anthony’s Restaurant, which was purchased in 1999 to make way for the project.
The entire project, also known as the Ocean Beach Entryway Plan, was started in 1997 with the hiring of a consultant to develop a master plan, according to the Ocean Beach Community Development Corporation website. The goal, it states, was to develop an entryway on the north end of Sunset Cliffs Boulevard that “would respect the sense of place, identity and diversity of the Ocean Beach Community.”