Visitors to the San Elijo Lagoon will benefit from 31 additional parking spaces and a public footpath

A near-complete $ 20.6 million renovation of the San Elijo Joint Powers Authority wastewater treatment property along Manchester Avenue could provide the added benefit of reducing the lack of parking at a nearby natural center .

Much of the construction work – the addition of a two-story administration building, modifications to the site’s stormwater treatment systems, and site security upgrades – will improve the day-to-day operations of the site. installation, but what happens in the part of the property which is closest to Manchester Avenue will significantly improve public access to the lagoon area, JPA chief executive Mike Thornton said last week.

Directly across Manchester Avenue from the sewage treatment property is the San Elijo Lagoon Natural Center, which is a popular destination for those looking to access the lagoon trail system. On weekend mornings, especially holiday weekends, the small 15-space lot at the Nature Center fills up quickly and vehicles start circling the area looking for parking spaces in the area. Street.

The treatment plant project will create a new public parking option – a 31-space lot where anyone can park, even if they don’t come to the treatment facility, Thornton said. There will also be a pocket park, water fountain, and trailhead access point. A grand opening ceremony is scheduled for next month, he said.

Doug Gibson, executive director and senior scientist of the Nature Collective lagoon conservation organization, said his organization is looking forward to these changes.

“It was great working with Mike because he was really aware of our needs,” he said.

He and Thornton said school children in the area would likely be among the beneficiaries of other elements of the treatment facility project. The nature center and the wastewater treatment plant already host common educational days where children walk between the two spots to discover the lagoon ecosystems and the treatment of wastewater. The renovation plans include new classroom space as well as changes that will make it easier for employees to make public tours of the sewage site, Thornton said.

In business for more than 50 years, the San Elijo Joint Powers Authority manages the wastewater of a 19 square mile area that includes Solana Beach, as well as parts of Encinitas and Rancho Santa Fe. the water treats 5.25 million gallons of wastewater per day, and the JPA also owns and operates a recycled wastewater distribution system that provides recycled water for irrigation to government clients , businesses and homeowners associations.

The processing plant was originally built in the mid-1960s, and the new 15,000-square-foot, two-story administrative building is a must, Thornton said.

“The administrative building was a worksite trailer. I literally worked two decades in a trailer, ”he said.

The coronavirus pandemic issues caused some headaches initially. Wastewater officials awarded the contract in March 2020, just before the San Diego area faced its first pandemic-related health restrictions, and then had to rework the contract to comply with those restrictions, Thornton said. .

Work began in June 2020 and construction finally went according to plan, he added. While most of the project is expected to be completed next month, a trail at the rear of the property will not open to the public until early next year, when nearby trails will be constructed by the Department of Transportation. state as part of a highway widening project. must be completed, Thornton said.

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