Members of the public are invited to attend the city’s long-awaited Village Entrance groundbreaking on Tuesday, Sept. 11, at 4 p.m. The ceremony will take place near 725 Laguna Canyon Road (between Parking Lot 10 and Parking Lot 11).
The Laguna Beach City Council voted on Aug. 7 to move forward with the project and award an $8.4 million construction contract to C.S. Legacy Construction for the Village Entrance project, which now has a price tag of $11.1 million. The city had initially budgeted $8.4 million total for the project.
The Village Entrance project, which has been more than four decades in the making, is slated to be completed by June 2020. The project site, across from City Hall near the intersection of Laguna Canyon Road and Forest Avenue, is currently used by the city for parking, storage, facilities and a sewer lift station.
The new Village Entrance design will incorporate landscaped multi-use pathways, improved lighting, new bridges, and repaved parking lots. Other elements include a new vehicle bridge aligned with the traffic signal at the Festival of Arts, new buildings for police support services and Marine Safety storage, the planting of 120 new trees, and the addition of 52 bicycle racks. The council also voted to spend up to $436,358 to upgrade the fencing along the drainage channel.
“The Village Entrance Project focuses on improving pedestrian, vehicle and bicyclist circulation while providing enhanced parking, new channel fencing, new lighting and extensive landscaping while linking the downtown, the festivals and the art district,” city officials said in a press release.
The council also agreed to allocate just over $100,000 to repaint and patch the exterior of the sewer digester building. The structure has been a topic of contention at recent city meetings, with some residents upset that city leaders decided to put off a full historical restoration of the architecturally unique building, which operated from 1935 to 1983.
The majority of the council opposed spending over $433,000 for a more intensive level of restoration for the digester building, which would have included reinstalling the outside spiral staircase, as they felt the public will want a full historical restoration down the road and it would be a waste to spend now just to redo it later.
The first phase of the project, which is already being staged, will focus on the west side of the channel until May 2019. Parking lots would then be restored for the summer season. The second phase of construction will begin in September 2019 and will focus on the east side of the channel and behind City Hall. The project could be completed as soon as May 2020.