Too Much Salt Delays Ribbon-Cutting at OB Entryway Park

by on November 20, 2014 · 7 comments

in Economy, Environment, History, Ocean Beach, San Diego


The OB Entryway Project, Oct. 23, 2014. Photo by Frank Gormlie

Park’s Walkway Does Not Enter Adjacent Robb Field

Reporter Tony de Garate in an excellent Nov. 17 piece in the San Diego Reader, has informed us that the much-ballyhooed ribbon-cutting on the Ocean Beach Entryway Project – Park is being delayed – once again.

De Garate reports that “there’s too much salt in the soil” at the planned park at the intersection of West Pt Loma Avenue and Sunset Cliffs Boulevard, according to the City, and that the November 20th opening of the new park will have to be pushed back into next year.  The city’s latest estimate of the completion date – as of Nov. 1st – is now February 2015.

This is extremely disappointing to Councilman Ed Harris of District 2, of course, as he and his staff had been looking forward to the ribbon-cutting as a tribute to the OB Community Development Corporation, the local group that has been shepherding the project over the last few years.

De Garate quotes Monica Muñoz, a spokeswoman for the city’s Public Works Department, as stating that the soil has failed two tests and they’re waiting for the results of a third test. Each test – which takes nearly 2 weeks for turn-around – causes more delay.  Apparently, the city has to send the samples to a lab in Anaheim.

Now, taking a step back, it’s really not too surprising that there’s a lot of salt in that soil.  Before all the flood controls, the dredging of Mission Bay, the waters of the lagoon of what’s now Mission Bay, used to lap right there on the edge of that lot.  The houses along that section of West Pt Loma used to have docks and boats that were tied up right next to the houses. One could shove off in their dingy and go fishing (or duck hunting) right there, as Robb Field and all that land used to be under water.  So, sure, there’s a lot of salt in that soil, duh!

Also, local writer Mercy Baron, reminds us in a comment to de Garate’s article that she used to work for the archeological consulting firm that did all the archeology on this site back in 2010. Mercy says she co-directed the lab on the project, and also reminds us that it is a Native American site.  Finally she states: “we were only paid a third of what we worked on and were contracted for. This project has had problems going way back to the very beginning.”

Here’s more of de Garate’s fine report:

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 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.”

Our one correction, would be to point out that the “ADA-compliant walkway that meanders from the corner south to adjacent Robb Field”, does NOT actually go into Robb Field, according to our contacts with the construction workers at the site.

This is difficult to believe, after all this time and money. Why doesn’t the meandering walkway go into Robb Field?  Chet Barfield, aid to Councilman Harris, expressed this very frustration at a recent OB community meeting. This seems like an oversight or deliberate effort to avoid some kind of liability?

Because the new park walkway does not go into Robb Field, people will still have to take that old steep asphalt runway into the park, and that’s damn shame.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

obracer November 20, 2014 at 1:25 pm

“there’s too much salt in the soil” Huh ?
As the last photo shows, most of the dirt was brought to the site. After the first phase there was slope, the slope was filled in order for the walkway to conform to ADA standards. Soils are tested long before a project starts.
I’ve tested concrete slabs for moisture and alkaline levels for 20 years , never heard of too much salt in the soil.
Get a real concrete contractor, this is bullsh*t.


Val November 20, 2014 at 2:36 pm

Seriously? The walkway is not going to lead into the park? So the walkway is going to be a dead-end? How is that helping anyone out except the shady characters trying to find places to loiter? I’m so confused – why is there a walkway to nowhere then? We still have to use the old ramp? I’m fine with that if they uninstall the human cheese grater of a fence that was put up there. Have you seen that? One out of control car and anyone standing there will be shredded. Literally. Wow – this is crazy and stupid.


Frank Gormlie Frank Gormlie November 20, 2014 at 4:01 pm

Plus that old ramp sure ain’t ADA compliant.


South Park November 20, 2014 at 3:41 pm

The money: $845,000 so far?

Mercy Baron commented that her archeological firm was not fully paid in 2010. Not paid by whom?

The OBCDC project website, which seems to be last updated in 2010, lists receiving a total of $187,500 of City and County funds, as project grants, from 2008 to 2010. The City allocated to the project $240,000 of Prop 40 funds in 2010. So who failed to pay the archeological firm, and why?


obbro November 21, 2014 at 12:37 pm

As noted above, historically this site was all tidal marsh and salt pan. I am guessing some genius landscaping designer is trying plant it out with nonnative stuff or boring ol’ grass. There are plenty of green inter-tidal native plants like Salicornia, Frankenia and others that prefer high saline soil that would do fine there, be low maintenance and maybe benefit insect and birds as well as be pleasing to the human eye. The previous planting palate they used was semi native and did ok in that space. What’s changed? This smells funny to me.


Tony D Tony de Garate December 2, 2014 at 11:12 am

I think you’ve made an excellent point. I know people feel strongly about landscaping and I wonder if there’s some kind of policy or protocol that limits the city’s discretion to plant the kind of species you mention. I’m intrigued by your solution and you’ve given me some questions to ask if I do a follow-up on this.


Frank Gormlie Frank Gormlie November 24, 2014 at 9:56 am

Diagrams of the improvements do show the path going into Robb Field. Yet workers at the site told me that the fence between the Entryway Park and Robb Field will be replaced and that the path does not lead into Robb Field.


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