Boulevard plan back, but on smaller scale

By Ray Huard in the U~T San Diego on.March 6, 2013

An on-again, off-again project to spruce up a section of Oceanside Boulevard is
back on, but it’s not quite the grand makeover that planners first envisioned.

“It’s a downscaled version of what was proposed a few years ago,” said city
senior civil engineer Gary Kellison, referring to an earlier plan that would have
made the area look more lush, but cost nearly $200,000 more than the revised project.

The new plan, expected to cost about $500,000, will add a sidewalk and landscaping
along a scruffy 10,600-foot-long stretch on the south side of Oceanside Boulevard
between Interstate 5 leading to the Crouch Street Sprinter station and park-and-ride
lot, Kellison said Tuesday.

Wheelchair access ramps also will be added, with improvements to a bus stop to
make it more accessible to handicapped riders, Kellison said.

The improvements can’t come soon enough for area residents, said Nadine Scott,
a city activist who lives nearby.

“Right now, it looks really industrial and ugly,” Scott said. “You’d think they’d want it to
be nice because we have our big business park to the east, and when El Corazon
gets going, you’ll have that.”

El Corazon is the 465-acre former sand mine along Oceanside Boulevard at
El Camino Real that the city plans to transform into a park, sports complex
and commercial center.

The initial improvements to Oceanside Boulevard will be limited to a segment in
front of a shopping center leading to county offices, Kellison said.

“It connects all those social services to the transit station, which is the main point
of the project,” he said.

When first proposed in the 2009 fiscal year with a price tag of $680,000 of city
money, the project was much grander.

“It had intense landscaping with many trees, like sycamores and palms,” he said.

Facing a series of deep budget cuts, the City Council shelved the project for a year.
In January 2010, planners came back with the scaled-down version priced at about
$433,000, Kellison said.

The city still couldn’t come up with the money on its own, so the project was shelved
for a second time, only to be revived this year with the help of a $400,000 grant from
SANDAG (San Diego Association of Governments), Kellison said.

The city has to match the SANDAG grant with $100,000, although Kellison said he’s
betting that the cost will come down.

The scaled-down project will be more utilitarian that what was first envisioned, he said.

“The difference is that there will be less landscaping, just a few trees instead of the many
trees that were in the original scope,” he said.

Even so, city officials and others say the project is significant because it’s adjacent to
Interstate 5 off-ramps, making the area a gateway to the city.

“It would go a long way to not only helping the aesthetics of the area, but to make it more
attractive for the businesses,” Chamber of Commerce President David Nydegger said.