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Community rallies to save sidewalk in Cardiff

Rennovation plan puts historic sidewalk at risk
Posted at 6:02 AM, Nov 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-19 11:36:23-05

ENCINITAS, Calif. (KGTV) - People in Cardiff by the Sea are rallying to save a historic section of sidewalk.

The City of Encinitas has plans to modernize Birmingham Drive. They hope to widen the street, add bike lanes, put in a roundabout, place power lines underground, and bring the sidewalks and curbs into ADA compliance. It's an $8.6 million project designed to improve mobility along the street and make it "greener."

"We are a very environmentally sensitive community," says Lillian Doherty, the city's Director of Infrastructure. "We want to be outside. We want to be able to walk with our children and feel safe. All of those things are key values of our community."

But the upgrade could come at a steep cost beyond the price tag.

The city may have to destroy a sidewalk engraved with hundreds of messages from local families and businesses to modernize the street.

"It was just really a cool community effort. And, gosh, I want to see it preserved," says Cardiff resident Suzie Mindlin.

She was on the Town Council in 1980, before Encinitas was incorporated as a City. Back then, Birmingham Drive was a dirt road without a sidewalk.

When the community wanted to make it safer, they had to find a way to fund the project. The council came up with the "Own a Piece of the Walk" project, which allowed people to "buy" a chunk of concrete and engrave it. The cost: $15.

"They stopped the traffic and poured the concrete, and everybody would line up with their square and start writing in it," Mindlin says.

Mindlin's family purchased a square, writing their names and drawing a soccer ball for their kids. Other squares have handprints, drawings, store logos, and more.

"Mine says 'Sunny Skys Bikinis,'" says Karen Veneziano, who owned a bikini shop at the time. She also engraved her children's names in it, along with 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 finds a way to preserve the sidewalk during the modernization of Birmingham.

"Maybe there's a way we can save it. So that my kids, or my grandkids, and everybody else's can see a piece of history," says Julie Thunder, who has posted on several social media platforms about the project.

"It's just such a great example of a community coming together and doing the hard work to make their little piece of the pie safer," she adds.

Some people say the slabs should be cut out and moved to another part of town. Others suggest digital photos as part of a historical exhibit or a mural.

City officials say they're working with community groups to find a solution. Since the project doesn't have funding for construction, they say there is still time to figure out the best way to preserve the concrete. It could be years before the first phase of construction begins.

Thunder says she's trying to raise awareness now before the city finalizes its plans.

"I wanted to start it early before the city makes decisions that can't be turned back."