North Beach Construction Update 10-16-19

So far, 29 of the 46 cottages in Crystal Cove’s Historic District have been restored and turned into low-cost coastal accommodations, providing public access to the beach and allowing individuals and families the opportunity to stay overnight mere feet from the water at extremely affordable rates.  Today, 17 of the historic seaside cottages at Crystal Cove still stand, mostly untouched since 2001, when the resident families, and often the home’s builders, closed the doors for the very last time. As time and tide passed by, the need to bring them back to life has never been more urgent. The loss of these cottages would be the loss of a unique example of early 20th century seaside cultural identity in California.  Crystal Cove Conservancy’s Heritage Legacy Project for California is working to stabilize the hillside the cottages are on, install modern infrastructure, and then restore the final 17 cottages with period appropriate furnishings, design, and landscape before making them available to the public to use and enjoy.  One of the cottages, will be re-designed as a dorm-style overnight accommodation which will be available for overnight education programs.  In this newly designed accommodation space, we will be able to invite low income/disadvantaged students to spend the night at the cove with our education team, thereby deepening their understanding and appreciation of natural spaces like Crystal Cove State Park.

Work to improve the infrastructure for the North Beach cottages started in December of 2018, and selected cottages have already been dismantled and put in storage. With the selected cottages out of the way and safely in storage, our construction team is better able to access the area to install retaining walls to stabilize the hillside as well as other infrastructure before returning the cottages to their original locations.  Then, restoration of all 17 cottages will begin.  The construction plan also includes building a 650-foot boardwalk in front of the cottages, based on the historic boardwalk that was there previously, which will grant public access to the site and open an area that has been fenced off since 2001. This boardwalk will provide full public and ADA access for future guests and park visitors.  The restored cottages will double our occupancy capacity to 48,000 guests annually.

After careful consideration, Crystal Cove Conservancy developed a strategic plan to prepare the organization before embarking on a capital campaign to restore the remaining 17 cottages along the North Beach of Crystal Cove State Park. To date, we have raised over $19 million dollars towards the project by bringing together support from governmental, foundational, and individual sources.  We are confident that we will be able to raise the remaining $30 million needed to complete the project.

As we continue to move further into 2019, North Beach restoration continues to stay on schedule and on budget.  Despite the heavy downpours in the beginning of the year, the weather has gotten much better and our primary contractor continues to carry on ahead of the contract schedule.  RockForce, our lead contractor, has been working diligently stabilizing the North Beach hill.  Starting with the large caisson retaining wall project to support north beach road, they have been drilling to depths of 50 feet into the bedrock.  After this, they have been building the cottage wide flanged beam and timber lagging retaining walls to protect the hillside from future slides.  New underground utilities will be going in once this is complete.  In the Spring of 2020, the new 650-foot boardwalk will be completed, running the full length of the project and eventually providing easy access to each cottage within the project area.

Although much effort has been focused on supporting the North Beach restoration, our education programs, for K-12 students in Orange County and beyond, have not been diminished in scope or delivery.  In fact, they have been expanded by adding two new programs, one focused on coastal engineering with high school students and the other on using technology to do ecological restoration with middle school students.  During the 2018-2019 school year, 5,800 students came to Crystal Cove State Park to participate in outdoor STEM education classes, that align with the Next Generation Science Standards, learning about coastal ecology, marine biology, or coastal engineering.

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