ENCINITAS, Calif. (KGTV) — Residents of Cardiff by the Sea are stepping up to save a historic section of the sidewalk.
The City of Encinitas plans to upgrade Birmingham Drive. They hope to widen the street, add bike lanes, build a roundabout, place power lines underground, and bring sidewalks and curbs into ADA compliance. This is an $8.6 million project designed to improve mobility along the street and make it “greener”.
“We’re a very environmentally conscious community,” says Lillian Doherty, the city’s director of infrastructure. “We want to be outside. We want to be able to walk with our kids and feel safe. All of those things are key values in our community.”
But the upgrade might come at a high cost beyond the price.
The city may need to tear down a sidewalk etched with hundreds of messages from local families and businesses to modernize the street.
“It was really a really cool community effort. And, my God, I want to see it preserved,” said Cardiff resident Suzie Mindlin.
She was a city council member in 1980, before Encinitas was incorporated as a city. At the time, Birmingham Drive was a dirt road with no sidewalks.
When the community wanted to make it safer, they had to find a way to fund the project. The council proposed the “Own a Piece of the Walk” project, which allowed people to “buy” a piece of concrete and carve it. The cost: $15.
“They stopped traffic and poured concrete, and everyone lined up in their spots and started writing on them,” Mindlin says.
Mindlin’s family bought a square, wrote their names and drew a soccer ball for their children. Other squares have hand prints, designs, store logos, etc.
“Mine says ‘Sunny Skys Bikinis,'” says Karen Veneziano, who owned a bikini shop at the time. She also engraved the names of her children, as well as a drawing of a palm tree.
“It was just special to have my daughters on it. And it was part of Cardiff. I think it’s really important because it’s our history,” Veneziano added.
Mindlin, Veneziano and several other Cardiff residents are now hoping the city will find a way to preserve the pavement as Birmingham is modernised.
“Maybe there’s a way to save it. So my kids, grandkids and everyone else can see a piece of history,” says Julie Thunder, who posted on multiple social media platforms about the project.
“It’s just a great example of a community coming together and doing the hard work to make their little slice of the pie safer,” she adds.
Some people say the slabs should be cut up and moved to another part of town. Others suggest digital photos as part of a historical exhibit or mural.
City officials say they are working with community groups to find a solution. Since the project does not have funding for construction, they say there is still time to find the best way to preserve the concrete. It could be years before the start of the first phase of construction.
Thunder says she’s trying to raise awareness now before the city finalizes its plans.
“I wanted to start early before the city makes decisions that can’t be undone.”
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