Tuesday, September 25, 2012
A plan more than 100 years in the making is finally coming true in downtown San Diego. A new waterfront park will soon enhance what some call our "Jewel on the Bay," the County Administration building.
This is where couples get their marriage licenses and sometimes hold ceremonies on the steps overlooking the bay. It's also where property owners come to take care of tax and assessment issues. And children and families already use the scenic property for horsing around between civic events.
The building was constructed in the 1930s with plans to include a waterfront park. That never came to pass. Until now, said County Supervisor Greg Cox.
"There's an old line in a song that laments they paved paradise and put up a parking lot. Well, we're taking away a parking lot and putting up a beautiful slice of paradise," Cox said.
Cox borrowed from a Joni Mitchell song to promote the first step in the waterfront park project: an underground parking facility with 250 public spaces. It should be finished by next fall, and if you have county business in the meantime you can still park on the north side.
County Board Chairman Ron Roberts says it will showcase San Diego's beautiful bay and allow the public to enjoy all it has to offer.
"The park will feature a series of diverse-themed landscaped rooms with plenty of seating and paths. And the gardens will be separated by shade trees and hedges in distinct different areas," Roberts said. It will also feature an 830-foot long fountain with water jets shooting into the air and a splash area for children.
"My recollection of this area when I was a little boy, this was mostly working docks, I recall Lane Field just down the street and of course it's all hotels and things like that today," Terry Dickenson from Rancho San Diego said. He really likes the idea and has watched the changes along the downtown waterfront over the past 56 years.
"The USS Midway, fabulous location, Star of India, is also a big attraction and the restaurants down here, so the park can only help all of that. And give us another opportunity to impress visitors with our city," Dickenson said.
Completion of the waterfront park is expected late spring 2014. The county says about a third of the $46.5 million dollar cost will be paid from the general fund. And the rest will come from bonds financed at a low interest rate.